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The FingerChip project

The FingerChip project started end of 1995. With the impulse of my boss Daniel, I proposed this crazy project to produce a biometric (bio-what? at this time...) sensor in a Thomson-CSF unit (TMS) that was absolutely not in that kind of business, under the form of a fingeprint sensor, using the same technology than the uncooled infrared-camera we were producing at this time, so a thermal-based fingerprint sensor.

And moreover, the proposed sensor shape was rather strange: it will look like a kind of little bar instead of a the regular square shape, and the user will be obliged to swipe his/her finger over it! The idea was too crazy at this time, and I got the authorization to create a regular square sensor first, immediatly followed by a swipe-type, as described in the products pages.

So we started to promote and market the idea with some demonstrations, you can see that in the History page. I have done myself some promotion tools and weird things around this project: as we got only some limited resource, everyone was making a lot of different things!

Allégorie :)
My reflection in a 6" FingerChip wafer :)
Making swipe fingerprint sensor is a cheap solution for silicon manufacturers, because of the larger number of candidates on one wafer, which cost is the same whatever the circuit is.

In 2000, Atmel bought the Thomson-CSF unit where the FingerChip was designed and produced and became Atmel-Grenoble, and the project got a strong impulse. At this time, the first big projects involving a large number of pieces were starting, and new interfaces, features, package types have been added, thus creating a whole family of products.

In 2006, Atmel sold the Grenoble unit to E2V, but the FingerChip was out of the deal: the FingerChip project was transfered in a specific unit, Atmel-France. In 2008, Atmel decided to stop the biometric activity, and production was phased out in 2009.

FingerChip visitors