3D image sensor unlocks smartphone with face recognition

The 3D image sensor chip from Infineon Technologies will make unlocking a mobile phone with 3D face recognition smarter, faster and more reliable, says the company. The unlocking method could replace fingerprint or PIN access and make authentication more convenient and more secure for mobile payment applications and mobile ID, speculates the company. 

The REAL3 chip was developed by Infineon with partner pmdtechnologies. The 3D image sensor in the REAL3 chip is based on time-of-flight (ToF) technology. It enables the world’s smallest camera module for integration in smartphones with a footprint of less than 12 x 8mm, including the receiving optics and vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) illumination.

Market forecasts expect smartphones with 3D sensing functionality to increase from about 50 million units in the year 2017 to roughly 290 million units in 2019. Compared to other 3D sensor principles, such as stereoscopic light or structured light approaches, ToF offers advantages in performance, size and power consumption of battery-operated mobile devices, adds Infineon.

The camera’s range and measurement accuracy are due to the intensity of the emitted and reflected infrared light, and the pixel sensitivity of the 3D image sensor chip. The REAL3 chip has 38,000 pixels with each pixel featuring suppression of background illumination (SBI) circuitry. It is tuned to work at 940nm infrared light sources, making the projected light invisible for outdoor performance. Furthermore, the IRS238xC integrates a dedicated function to support Laser-Class-1 safety level.

Samples of the Infineon 3D image sensor chip are already available. Volume production is scheduled to start in Q4 2018. Software partners like Sensible Vision and IDEMIA offer application software for user face detection and authentication. 

Infineon and pmdtechnologies will be at CES 2018 (9 – 12 January) Las Vegas, booth MP26065 in South Hall 2 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.



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