New Xiaomi smartphone integrates infrared sensor system from ams for facial recogntion

Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone integrates a low-power IR vertical cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) array from Austrian high-performance sensor maker ams for user facial recognition.

The PMSIL laser emitter provides the Mi8 Explorer Edition with a complete flood illuminator system with eye-safety interlock, very high optical efficiency and minimal battery drain when emitting, according to the announcement. It incorporates the emitter die and a diffuser in a 3mm by 3mm by 1mm for factor, features high spectral stability over temperature, and a narrow spectral width of less than 1nm. The company also says its engineered beam profile can be configured to work with different smartphone applications.

“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,” said Hui Nie, General Manager for product line VCSEL at ams. “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.”

In the Mi8 Explorer Edition the PMSIL will run in always-on mode for face detection and recognition. The structured lighting system’s emitter is the ams CS115, which is an IR chip-on-substrate VCSEL array. The TMD27253 ambient light sensor and proximity detection module from ams are also used in Xiaomi’s Mi8 and Mi8SE models, which also feature fingerprint sensors from Fingerprint Cards.

Digitimes Research reported in April that the first Android-based smartphone with 3D facial recognition will likely reach the market in Q3 because of the difficulty of integrating the necessary hardware and software, though industry sources said last year that Oppo and Xiaomi planned to have 3D sensing technology for facial recognition in devices as early as March of this year.

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