New 3D imaging technologies for smartphone facial recognition unveiled

Vivo and Lucid have made separate announcements of a pair of new 3D imaging technologies at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2018. Vivo has unveiled a time-of-flight (TOF) technology based on information captured with 300,000 sensor points, which it says are ten times as many as existing Structured Light Technology, such as that used in Apple’s Face ID. Lucid is scaling its core 3D software to work with dual and multi-camera devices to capture depth, according to its announcement.

Lucid says its proprietary real-time 3D Fusion technology uses AI and machine learning with historic data in the cloud to mimic the way human brains process images with two eyes. The technology’s effectiveness will also continue to improve as the system processes more data. The company plans to offer the software to manufacturers of mobile phones, robots, drones, AR/VR and security cameras, saving them money and space in their devices that would otherwise be dedicated to depth sensors and other hardware.

“We see this as a unique opportunity where our technology syncs with the acceleration of the industry as dual cameras move into many more devices,” said Han Jin, CEO, Lucid.

There were 300 million phones shipped with dual cameras in 2017, but analysts expect dual camera phones to reach 50 percent penetration by 2020 on 400 percent growth, according to the announcement. Lucid’s 3D software is currently being integrated with devices from several phone, camera, and robot makers, and it is working with laptop, drone, and chip makers on next-generation products.

“The way we as humans accurately perceive three dimensions and distances is not solely based on our two eyes but rather a combination of experience, learning and inference. As chips and servers begin to approach the processing power of our brains, we can mimic this intelligence in software only, using AI and data on top of dual cameras,” said Jin.

Vivo meanwhile is showcasing its TOF 3D Sensing Technology, which is says enables 3D mapping from up to 3 meters away. The system is simpler and smaller than other 3D imaging technologies, which will enable a broader application of the technology, with uses including facial recognition but also gesture recognition, 3D photography and augmented reality (AR), according to Vivo’s announcement. The technology is tested and meets industry standards for integration with apps “soon.”

“From last year’s debut of In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology, the recent launch of the truly bezel-less Vivo NEX, to our ground-breaking TOF 3D Sensing technology, we continue to forge ahead and evolve towards the truly intelligent future by opening new ways for the AI to help the consumer,” said Alex Feng, Senior Vice President of Vivo. “By combining TOF 3D Sensing Technology with AI, we will continue to explore new possibilities for a better future.”

Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S10 is expected to include 3D facial recognition as competition in smartphone biometrics and imaging technology heat up. SensibleVision CEO George Brostoff recently spoke to Biometric Update about the differences between 2D and true 3D imaging.

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