Fingerprint recognition on smartphone is a relatively new technology, but there’s already something even better in the works. And that’s a good thing for germophobes.

Apple Inc. introduced its Touch ID fingerprint recognition system with the iPhone 5S in 2013. Although it made unlocking phones easier in theory, it doesn’t always work smoothly. For example, the initial scanning might have scanned only a portion of the fingerprint. Additionally, any sweat or liquid on the finger can interfere with the scan. 

In the near future, though, Touch ID may become a technological dinosaur.  

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is working with MorphoTrak LLC and 3M Co. to develop contactless fingerprint technology. Although the technology doesn’t exist yet, it could allow a person to quickly move through security checkpoints simply by showing their hand to a scanner, NIST said.

Because skin is elastic, “traditional fingerprints contain natural distortion from the pressure of placing the finger on the fingerprinting surface,” such as the Touch ID button on the iPhone. Contactless fingerprints will look different and therefore, the types of sensors being used for contactless fingerprint capture will be significantly different from sensors used in traditional fingerprint capturing technology.

Besides that, touchless technology will offer a more hygienic alternative to conventional fingerprint readers. Think about it, when was the last time you cleaned your phone? According to a 2011 study, one in six mobile phones in Britain contained fecal matter. To find out exactly how many germs live on your mobile phone, take this completely scientifically accurate quiz!

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