Sony to Achieve Better Facial Recognition with Lasers

Sony’s depth-sensing sensor will prove capable of matching Face ID for accuracy and security while shrinking down the size of required parts.

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According to a report on Bloomberg Sony will increase the production of chips to power front and rear 3D cameras in late summer, responding to demand from multiple smartphone manufacturers, says Satoshi Yoshihara  Sony’s sensor division head.

Apple’s approach was to project dots on the face of the user making a 3D grid to map the face in the 3D space. Whereas Sony’s approach is to project lasers instead of dots to create this 3D grid. Apple was the first but Xiaomi, Huawei, and Vivo aslo started making devices with facial recognition sensor based on the apple’s Dot projection method.

Sony’s 3D sensor will deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat’s echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony’s sensor chief claims that this will produce more detailed models of users’ faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet).

Sony is and has been a pioneer in producing optical devices ranging from sensors to cameras. Now Sony is trying to ace the 3D depth sensing game as well. The Japanese giant acquired a Belgian company called SoftKinetic a few years ago, which was renamed to Sony Depthsensing a year ago. 

With a whole new Sony Depth Sensing website which shows the company’s aim and vision with autonomous cars, drones, robotics, head-mounted displays, and gaming as potential applications.

The mobile face recognition system is where there is a hope of development. With the increase in competition among the designers to stretch the screen as big as possible(trying to achieve an all screen smartphone), including the array of sensors for face recognition like the Face ID is a hurdle which they have to cross without compromising the security. The chunk of hardware used for face recognition today by Apple or its rival is not a problem for big devices such as tablets like the iPad. But Sony’s depth-sensing sensor will be an instant winner if they prove capable of matching Face ID for accuracy and security while shrinking down the size of required parts.

In late 2017, a report surfaced the internet of Apple preparing exactly same sort of 3D laser-based system for the 2019 iPhone, though at the time the company was said to still be pursuing suppliers. Yoshihara wouldn’t be drawn into discussing which hardware partners Sony expects to see using its 3D sensor technology, but Sony already provides imaging sensors to Apple, so there’s a reasonable chance that we could see Sony’s new laser sensors with depth sensing chips with the release of the next set of iPhones.

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