Miniature Lasers Bring Always-on Face Recognition To Android Smartphone

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ams laser sensors used in Xiaomi’s new Mi8 smartphone allow always-on face recognition features and sleek design

Today, we’re seeing a host of applications that make use of facial recognition technology. And there is a rise of this technology in the smartphones market too.

ams recently announced that a new flagship smartphone from the fast-growing Chinese brand Xiaomi, the Mi8 Explorer Edition, includes a face recognition system which uses an array of low-power lasers from the company. ams also said that it is the first Android smartphone to feature 3D facial recognition technology based on laser arrays.

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The Xiaomi smartphone uses an array of low-power infrared (IR) vertical cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) arrays from ams.

According to the firm, the PMSIL is a complete VCSEL flood illuminator system with integrated eye-safety interlock, claiming to offer very high optical efficiency and minimizing the drain on the phone’s battery when emitting.

The compact 3mm x 3mm x 1mm size of the PMSIL incorporates the emitter die, and a diffuser.

The firm claims that it features a high spectral stability over temperature and a narrow spectral width of <1nm. Also, its engineered beam profile can be precisely configured to the needs of specific smartphone applications.

In the Mi8 Explorer Edition, the PMSIL operates in always-on mode for face detection and recognition.

Besides providing the IR laser arrays, ams also supplies the TMD27253 ambient light sensor and proximity detection module in the Mi8 and Mi8SE models, according to the announcement.

Commented Hui Nie, General Manager Product Line VCSEL at ams, “To fit the slim, bezel-less design of the Mi8 Explorer Edition, Xiaomi’s designers wanted to build the smallest possible face recognition system which led them to evaluate the ams IR VCSEL arrays. Once they tested the power consumption of the ams devices against that of competing products, the overall superiority of the ams parts became very clear.”

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