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TrendForce forecasts optical sensors used in iris and facial recognition to reach $827M in 2025


LEDinside, a division of TrendForce, recently published its 2017 IR LED/IR Laser and Optical Sensor Market Report, which forecasts that the global market of IR LED and IR laser components used in iris and facial recognition solutions will grow at a CAGR of 24 percent from $145 million in 2017 to $827 million in 2025.

“The incorporation of features such as iris recognition and 3D Sensing in smartphones provides a lucrative opportunity for suppliers of IR LED, IR laser and optical sensors,” said Joanne Wu, assistant research manager of LEDinside.

According to the report, smartphone and the automotive markets are the two major application markets for IR LED, which appeared in a range of solutions related to areas including security surveillance, iris/facial recognition, photoplethymography, time of flight 3D scanning, structured light 3D scanning and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

As mobile devices such as smartphones begin to provide transaction payments and identity verification capabilities, user security has become more important than ever.

To the same degree, the technology standards regulating the practices of the biometric recognition features on these devices are also becoming more strict, the report said.

“Iris recognition has the advantage of offering a higher level of security,” Wu said. “Each iris pattern has around 2,000 data points, whereas a fingerprint has around 100. Therefore, the former can provide a much more accurate user verification outcome than the latter.”

The report presents the example of the iris recognition scanner in Samsung Galaxy S8, which uses a near-infrared (NIR) LED camera, a CCD image sensor and a biometric solution. In addition, the IR LEDs used in the camera are in the wavelength range of 700~900nm.

Users look at the smartphone screen which triggers the NIR LED camera to take a picture of their iris that has been previously added to the biometric database.

Currently, providers of IR LEDs for the iris recognition application include OSRAM Opto, Epistar, Epileds, High Power Lighting, Brightek Optoelectronics, Lite-On Technology, Vishay and Epitex.

Meanwhile, IR laser is gaining momentum in the market and may eventually replace IR LED in some applications, particularly within mobile devices, the report states.

IR laser is considered to be more accurate in many tasks such as proximity sensing, auto focus, hand gesture recognition and noise cancelling, according to the report.

In addition, the laser beam’s spatial coherence and focus allows it to pass through openings of small diameters, which may lead to IR lasers replacing IR LEDs in certain market applications.

“IR laser has become a critical part of many advances in 3D imaging,” said Wu. “3D sensing cameras now use solutions based on time-of-flight 3D scanning and structured light projection. These solutions provide more accurate depth measurement and 3D mapping than methods derived from the traditional 2D imaging technologies.”

The report highlights several major suppliers of IR laser components including LUMENTUM, FINISAR, HLJ Technology and OSRAM Opto, as well as IC companies AMS-TAOS and STMicroelectronics.

TrendForce analysts also note that brand Apple is actively acquiring companies and patents related to structured light.

As a result, depth measurement and 3D imaging technologies such as structured light and time of flight will find more applications in the near future, the report states.

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