Synaptics acquires Validity for $255m; dives into biometrics

Summary:Think the iPhone 5S fingerprint identification sensor is a novelty? Think again.

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Synaptics, the U.S. technology company that probably knows more about fingers than any other, announced on Wednesday that it will acquire San Jose-based Validity for $255 million.

Of interest: the smaller company's biometric fingerprint authentication products for smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

For awhile, Synaptics—an interface company that has long provided touch-based technologies for computers, phones and tablets—has sought to gain access to the fast-growing biometrics market. This acquisition helps swing open that door, giving the larger company fingerprint-sensing tech ("LiveFlex" high-frequency RF imaging, to be specific) that has been missing from the portfolio.

The deal also aligns with Validity's own goals. "Synaptics' acquisition of Validity puts our vision of having Natural ID on every mobile computing device on the fast track," Validity CEO Rob Baxter said, calling the deal a "natural fit." (No pun intended.)

Though fingerprint sensors have most recently made headlines for their incorporation into Apple's flagship iPhone 5S, they have been in use for years in various industries, including mobile technology. (Lenovo ThinkPads, anyone?) However, with the rise of mobile payment transactions, cloud-based services and concerns around enterprise mobile device security, the sensors are bound to become more integral than mere add-ons.

In the deal, Synaptics will pay $92.5 million in stock and cash; the $255 million figure is contingent on "potential performance payments over a multi-year period." It will close in the current quarter, subject to regulatory approval.

Topics: Security, Hardware

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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