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Metalenz polarization tech could boost mobile biometric liveness

Metalenz polarization tech could boost mobile biometric liveness

Optical technology expert Metalenz has developed a polarization-based optical technology which drastically reduces the size of the imaging systems for implementation on mobile devices, with potential benefits for biometric liveness detection.

Dubbed PolarEyes, the new tech is not yet commercially available, but according to the company, it may soon be used to improve privacy and security levels in smartphone-based face biometrics applications.

From a technical standpoint, polarization software uses polarized light to discern various properties of surfaces, including roughness and composition.

“Polarization imaging is known to have a number of great potential applications including providing contrast in medical imaging and sensing objects that can’t be seen by standard cameras like black ice to help autonomous driving,” Metalenz co-founder and CEO Robert Devlin tells Photonics Media.

Because of these capabilities, PolarEyes could be used, for instance, to counter presentation attacks against face biometric systems by using high-quality masks and high-resolution prints.

“Polarization in facial recognition tells you whether you’re looking at real human skin, or a silicone mask, or a high-quality photo or something,” Devlin says in an interview with TechCrunch.

Early tests conducted by the company seem to confirm the feasibility of these applications, with the Metalenz optical technology spotting biometric spoof attacks with printouts and recognizing surgical masks as a separate object from the person trying to gain access.

“Perhaps the most exciting part, though, is once we get polarization imaging into everyone’s pocket, we have the potential to unlock unforeseen applications and markets,” Devlin says.

These may include detecting black ice in automotive applications, as well as enabling individuals to carry out at-home dermatological exams.

At the time of writing, PolarEyes technologies are not yet small enough to be implemented within smartphones.

However, Metalenz confirmed it aims to make those applications feasible by the first half of 2022, with PolarEyes units potentially being installed as additional modules alongside traditional cameras in smartphones’ front-facing arrays.

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