Metalenz captures facial signature with new Polar ID imaging system for face unlock
At Qualcomm Technologies’ annual Snapdragon Summit, Boston-based optical semiconductor firm Metalenz introduced Polar ID, a new consumer-grade biometric imaging system that can sense the full polarization state of light.
A press release announcing the launch describes something like a 3D facial heat map or ellipsometry, explaining that Polar ID uses meta-optic capability to capture the “polarization signature” of a human face, which includes biometric data such as facial contour details and human tissue liveness detection. “With this additional layer of information, even the most sophisticated 3D masks and spoof instruments are immediately detected as non-human,” says the release.
Size is a key feature, with Polar ID aiming for lightweight, cost-effective face verification tech.
“Size, cost, and performance, those are the key metrics in the consumer industry”, says Rob Devlin, CEO of Metalenz. “Polar ID offers an advantage in all three. It is small enough to fit in the most challenging form factors, eliminating the need for a large notch in the display. It is substantially higher resolution than existing facial authentication solutions, so even if you’re wearing sunglasses and a surgical mask, the system still works.” As a result, the release says, “Polar ID has the efficiency, footprint, and price point to enable any Android smartphone Original Equipment Managers (OEM) to bring the convenience and security of face unlock to the 100s of millions of mobile devices that currently use fingerprint sensors.”
Pawel Latawiec, CTO of Metalenz, points out that Polar ID’s combination of the firm’s polarization image sensor with post-processing algorithms and sophisticated machine learning models allows for reliable and secure authentication of a phone’s registered user.
“Working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to implement our solution on their reference smartphone powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 3,” he said, “we were able to leverage the advanced image signal processing capabilities of the Qualcomm Spectra ISP while also implementing mission critical aspects of our algorithms in the secure framework of the Qualcomm Hexagon NPU, to ensure that the solution is not only spoof-proof but also essentially unhackable.”
Per the release, Polar ID is under early evaluation with several top smartphone OEMs, and more evaluation kits will be made available early in the new year.