AuthenTec Sells Off Embedded Security Systems, Leaving FingerPrint Technology for Apple

authentec logo

NFCWorld reports that AuthenTec has sold off its Embedded Security Solutions (ESS) division to a company called Inside Secure for $48 million, leaving Apple with its fingerprint sensors and identity management assets.

Authentec's Embedded Security Solutions (ESS) division designs, develops and sells a range of embedded security solutions, centered on the use of encryption algorithms and security blocks to protect data and ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability.

TechCrunch suggests one of the reasons for the sell off of this non-core technology is to avoid any regulatory hurdles in the AuthenTec acquisition.

If the initial Reuters report of the acquisition remains accurate, it recoups investment on parts of the business which aren’t essential to Apple’s plans. It also ensures that once any deal is finalized, there will be less to worry about in terms of Apple gaining undue control over tech essential to the securing of its competitors products, which might raise red flags with regulators

Apple had been reported to have acquired AuthenTech back in July for $356 million. Speculation had already claimed that Apple was primarily interested in AuthenTec's fingerprint scanning technology for future devices. Several current customers of AuthenTec's fingerprint sensors were already been forced to quickly look for alternative suppliers.

Top Rated Comments

Mac Fly (film) Avatar
113 months ago
Embedded Security Solutions (http://authentec.com/Products/EmbeddedSecurity.aspx) (ESS) division to a company called Inside Secure for $48 million...

Read that as "Insecure".
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
113 months ago
... the only end effect would be that nobody else can use it in consumer electronics until the license expires. We don't actually know.

The Apple license acquired perpetual exclusive consumer electronics rights to any technology created or acquired by Liquidmetal up to at least February 2014.

Evidence from people I know pointed to Apple working on multitouch research as far back as 2000, leading up to the Fingerworks acquisition.

Quite possible, considering multitouch dates back to the early 80s.

Most of the details, they obviously didn't want to tell me. If you were to tell me in 2006 that buying out Fingerworks was just to bury it, I'd be sad and probably nod in agreement because there's little other evidence. But in reality, their tech got rolled into a project that shipped after 6+ years of development.

People repeat this all the time, yet I can't think of one Fingerworks patent that got used in iOS. Or even close. As a Fingerworks founder noted when asked about this, their company was about opaque items, not transparent touchscreens.

But something else that bothers me is that while we've heard that other manufacturers have used Liquid Metal before, and we've heard people claim that Liquid Metal isn't being used by Apple except in some glorified paper clips, I can't seem to find any details.

One example is Samsung. They started using Liquid Metal for phone hinges back in 2002. They continued using LM for parts over the years, even creating the world's first LM luxury phone in 2008, citing its corrosion and scratch resistance. They continued to use it for trim.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KnightWRX Avatar
113 months ago
Liquid metal components have big potential for use in phones etc but have you ever considered their engineers may not have been able to get the production yields they need with liquid metal to include it in their products yet. Anything that goes into an Apple product has to scale to huge production quantities, which is probably why we haven't seen IGZO screens in iDevices yet. Great potential but volume production problems.
Then. Why. The. Exclusivity ?

*sigh*

Look, I'm not saying Apple shouldn't be looking into Liquid Metal, or trying it out, or getting a license to the some of the patents. It's the exclusivity bit that bugs me, especially in light of Apple not actually using it.

Sandisk had MP3 players built with the stuff in 2006. That it's not ready for Apple to use in the quantities they need for parts they need is not what I'm having an issue with. It's locking out other players that might have a use for which the product is ready that is the puzzling part. It's Apple trying to gain an advantage using its cash reserves, locking people out of technology.

Same as their stylus patents, touch screen Macs even though "they don't work" patents.

Apple needs to stop trying to compete by preventing others from competing, it needs to rely on its great products and marketing instead. There will always be users who don't want/need Apple products and trying to prevent them from having the choice to go elsewhere is just going to hurt their brand image in the end.

It all remains to be seen if this applies to this AuthenTec purchase, it's just sad that people that have these AuthenTec enable devices outside of Apple are now locked out of future updates because Apple is picking up the IP, especially in light that they don't really seem to have a use for it.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Iconoclysm Avatar
113 months ago
And sometimes, they just claim they will and never do. Like Facetime. And other times, it's because licensing of the copyrighted codebase they are using forces them to. Like Webkit.

But the fact remains, Liquid Metal's license seems to be a move to lock out the competition from using it. Same as when they use their massive supply chains to simply lock out the competition from getting parts like NAND or Displays.

Apple always does what benefits Apple. That shouldn't be a surprise, Apple isn't exactly out to make the world a better place, it's goal like any publicly traded company is simply profits.

Actually, Apple was not forced to leave Webkit open if you read up on the limited license it was protected under. Facetime is open because it's basically SIP, and it's already open right now.

Did you ever consider that Liquid Metal may not be up to Apple's level of quality yet? Or is it always instantly Apple being predatory? I'm sure Apple was simply locking out the competition rather than getting **** a lot cheaper too.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
113 months ago
If this is anything like the Liquid Metal exclusivity license Apple acquired, it could very much be not about integrating it in its own products, but about locking its competition out of it.

Sometimes Apple reminds me of those seagulls in "Finding Nemo". They don't like to share anything.

Wow. Am I the only person that does not want my biometrics to be scanned or stored anywhere ever? This seems like it is heading down a road I don't want to travel.

If it's just stored locally, it could be quite useful.

Fingerprint scanners have been used on handhelds since before 2000.

The first retina-screen smartphone (the 2007 Toshiba Portégé G900) had a fingerprint scanner which not only could be used to unlock the phone, but you could even set it up so that each finger launched a different application.

Scanners can also be used to confirm the user when making electronic payments, picking up tickets, etc.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DarkWinter Avatar
113 months ago
I can't make my mind up as to whether this'd make it into the next iPhone iteration or not. Else it'll be more of an iPhone 6 than a 5S, which I'm all for. Finger crossed.

Entering my passcode is getting tedious (first world problem).
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...