Having revealed that its new flagship smartphone would feature 3D facial recognition technology earlier this month, LG has now announced plans to become a major supplier of the underlying technology to the broader tech industry.
Originally developed by Infineon and Pmdtechnologies, LG’s 3D imaging system is based on Time-of-Flight technology, assessing spatial information based on how emitted light bounces off of objects in the real world. The technology will power a facial recognition system in LG’s G8 ThinQ smartphone, which will hit the market on February 24th; but the company’s subsidiary, LG Innotek, has now issued a statement indicating plans to grow a ToF sensor business, targeting not only the smartphone market but also PCs and home electronics, wearables, and even automotive applications.
In a statement, LG Innotek asserted that it “has already laid the foundation for the business by acquiring R&D and production capabilities,” elaborating later that it “has internalized key component technology necessary for 3D sensing modules, such as light source technology and lens technology, to further enhance its competitive edge.” The company also said that has “partnered up with various global companies” as part of this effort.
It’s the latest sign of the tech industry’s growing embrace of facial recognition in the wake of Apple’s launch of the Face ID authentication system on the iPhone X. Apple’s embrace of facial recognition has prompted many rivals in the mobile sector to follow suit, and may ultimately have a similar impact on the tech world as that of its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system launched in 2013. LG’s solution is not based on the same infrared technology, but is nevertheless one of a small handful of solutions enabling three-dimensional face imaging; and the company’s ambitions to apply this well beyond the smartphone space point to the considerable growth potential of the 3D facial recognition market.