Infineon Announces Time-of-Flight 3D Image Sensor

“The offering appears to be a response to the success of Apple’s Face ID system on the iPhone X, which also uses infrared imaging to enable 3D facial recognition.”

Germany-based semiconductor solutions provider Infineon has announced a new 3D image sensor designed to enable 3D facial recognition on mobile devices.Infineon Announces Time-of-Flight 3D Image Sensor

Developed in collaboration with pmdtechnologies, the sensor has a footprint of 12mm x 8mm, with the imaging system based on infrared light and the 38,000-pixel REAL3 chip. It’s based on time-of-flight, which Infineon is positioning as a more powerful and less energy-consuming imaging method than stereoscopic or structured light systems.

The offering appears to be a response to the success of Apple’s Face ID system on the iPhone X, which also uses infrared imaging to enable 3D facial recognition. In a statement announcing the solution, Infineon asserted that market forecasters are predicting that “smartphones with 3D sensing functionality to increase from about 50 million units in the year 2017 to roughly 290 million units in 2019.”

Infineon won’t be able to capture all of that potential. Other major companies such as Samsung are already putting forward their own 3D facial recognition systems for integration into mobile devices, and Infineon says its 3D image sensor won’t be ready for volume production until Q4 of this year. But samples are already available, and Infineon and pmdtechnologies are planning to showcase the solution at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, where it will have a good shot at attracting some interest from OEMs starting to plan future devices that might incorporate 3D face imaging.