December 07, 2017

Designing cutting-edge dot projectors for 3D optical facial recognition

Designing cutting-edge dot projectors for 3D optical facial recognition

Formerly the stuff of science fiction movies, thanks to Apple leading the pack, 3D optical facial recognition is the future of mobile phones—and that future is now. Instead of logging on with a fingerprint reader or passcode, consumers of the new iPhone X unlock their phones with 3D facial recognition technology called Face ID.

How it works

Face ID uses an infrared dot projector to map a person’s face instantly through the phone’s camera. The dot-projector style of facial recognition gives 3D information, while a traditional camera only provides 2D information. The system is possible thanks to six optical modules: an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a 7MP camera, and the dot projector, which beams 30,000 points onto the user’s face to create the 3D map. Those points are recognized by the infrared camera, which then maps the contours of the face. (Read more about how it works here.)

Benefits of 3D optical facial recognition using dot projectors

The major benefits of allowing people to sign on through 3D facial recognition are security and convenience. According to Apple, “the chance of someone else unlocking your phone with Face ID is one in a million, compared with one in 50,000 for Touch ID.” (Source: Bloomberg) And it’s more convenient to simply look at a device than to log on with the fingerprint reader or passcode. That’s why we will start seeing similar tech coming from other mobile manufacturers, as well as from non-technical industries, such as law enforcement. Similar technology already exists in laptops and gaming devices from Microsoft and others.

Simulating a dot projector with OpticStudio

Simulating dot projection systems is challenging because it requires diffractive optical elements to generate hundreds of grid-like dots. OpticStudio can simulate the effects of these complex optical elements using several diffractive surface types and beam propagation tools. Watch our webinar which demonstrates how to simulate a holographic optical system using Physical Optics Propagation.

Free trial

Interested in trying OpticStudio? The two-week trial of OpticStudio Online includes all the features in the Premium Edition, optimization tools to improve system performance, advanced stray light analysis tools, the ability to input and manipulate your own data, and more than 100 sample files.


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