If you’ve been following the continuing adventures of Tellspec – the crowdfunded company that claimed, back in 2013, to have invented a miraculous food ingredient scanner – the latest news out of the company won’t surprise you one jot.
After missing countless delivery deadlines — and trying the patience of the nearly 2,000 backers who gave the company over $ 380k on Indiegogo two years ago — Tellspec is now notifying beta testers of yet another delay.
This time they claim unspecified “problems” with the device’s battery and firmware. Unlike with previous delays, however, this one doesn’t come with a revised delivery estimate. Instead, the company says “we will only be shipping after this gets resolved…”
Most of the things revealed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona aren’t worth getting too excited about. For example, how many people are really going to be using any of the payment platforms introduced during the conference, or buying the expensive-but-“secure” devices, or paying even the slightest attention to talk about Google’s wireless network or Facebook’s drones?
The new scanner uses “ultrasonic sound technology” to look at a fingerprint in 3D instead of relying on a two-dimensional representation of the appendage’s bumps and ridges. This is supposed to make it harder for people to spoof someone else’s digit, and it might also make it easier to use the fingerprint sensor even with grimy, sweaty, and greasy fingertips.
Apple’s TouchID sensor is notorious for not working when a person’s fingers aren’t clean. Even a trace amount of sweat seems to throw the thing off, and it’s hard to know if it will work after meals, in the snow or rain, or in any other instance when a thumb might get a little wet. Fixing that problem would make any smartphone much less frustrating to use every day.
Yet that’s no excuse for not making the best fingerprint scanner possible. Anyone who adopts a fingerprint scanner — and I’ll admit that I’m in this category — is making a conscious choice to give up some security in exchange for convenience. If that’s going to be the case, the least tech companies can do is make sure their scanners actually are convenient instead of being frustrating and unusable. Qualcomm, it seems, will now offer device manufacturers and consumers alike the best thing to come to fingerprint reading since inkless ink.