LONDON — Infineon Technologies and German fabless semiconductor company pmdtechnologies AG are sampling a 3-D image sensor for a camera module that enables facial ID authentication in mobile phones using time-of-flight (ToF)-based depth sensing.
Using 3-D facial recognition technology to unlock a smartphone with a glance instead of a fingerprint or PIN input is a trending feature for mobile communications. Said to make authentication more convenient and more secure, the technology is already being used for mobile payment applications and mobile ID in China, for example.
Market forecasts expect smartphones with 3-D sensing functionality to increase from about 50 million units last year to roughly 290 million units in 2019. Compared with other 3-D sensor principles, such as stereoscopic- or structured-light approaches, the time-of-flight approach is said to offer advantages in performance, size, and power consumption for battery-operated mobile devices.
Infineon’s REAL3 3-D image sensor chip enables what the company says is the smallest camera module available for integration in smartphones, with a footprint of less than 12 mm x 8 mm, including the receiving optics and vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) illumination. Two factors provide the camera’s range and measurement accuracy: the intensity of the emitted and reflected infrared light, and the pixel sensitivity of the 3-D image sensor.
Infineon’s REAL3 3-D image sensor chip enables what the company
says is the smallest camera module available for integration in smartphones,
with a footprint of less than 12 mm x 8 mm.
The sensor embeds the IRS238XC pixel-matrix imager from pmdtechnologies, whose 3-D depth-sensing technology has already been integrated into devices such as smartphones, augmented-reality headsets, intelligent home devices, and robots. In this latest version, camera module layout and integration have been significantly improved, according to the developers, with dedicated functions incorporated in the design to support Class 1 laser compliance for use in 3-D depth-sensing camera modules.
The integrated MIPI interface and integrated digital logic make it easy and convenient to operate the 3-D camera module, according to the companies. Each pixel of the IRS238XC provides suppression of background illumination (SBI) circuitry to enable robust outdoor depth sensing in full sunlight. The 38,000 pixels reportedly provide higher resolution than existing 3-D depth-sensing chips and are tuned to work at a 940-nanometer wavelength to optimize depth-sensing operability outdoors.
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