New Infrared LEDs Enable Facial Recognition on a Smartwatch

“Biometric identification will become an increasingly important part of our lives in the future.” – Arne Fleißner, Product Manager, Osram Opto Semiconductors

New Infrared LEDs Enable Facial Recognition on a Smartwatch
(image via Osram)

Munich-based Osram Opto Semiconductors is looking to facilitate facial recognition on smartwatches with a new pair of infrared LED solutions.

The LEDs, dubbed SFH 4170S and SFH 4180S, can each be used in the Oslon P1616 package, a 1.6mm by 1.6mm by 0.85mm module designed for integration into small devices such as smartwatches. Osram says the two infrared LEDs – or “IREDs” – require about half the space that comparable products on the market, suggesting that they could open up new possibilities to OEMs.

The SFH 4170S is the thinner of the two IREDs, at 850 nm, while the thicker SFH 4180S, at 940 nm, can operate without producing a red glow visible to the human eye. Power consumption for both IREDs comes in at 1150 mW at 1 A, and they have a radiation intensity of 280 mW/sr.

Commenting on the new offerings in a statement, Osram Product Manager Arne Fleißner gestured to the growing mobile biometrics market. “Biometric identification will become an increasingly important part of our lives in the future,” he said. “With our two new IREDs, we are making space-saving integration into our customers’ end devices much easier and are thus also helping to protect users’ sensitive data.”

With their potential for smartwatch applications, the IREDs are noteworthy in a market in which the premium brand, Apple, hasn’t yet been able to incorporate its Face ID system into its own smartwatch devices. Part of the issue in Apple’s case is the sophistication of its 3D face imaging system, whereas Osram’s new IREDs are designed only to support 2D facial imaging. But for rival device makers who might be satisfied with two-dimensional imaging, the Osram IREDs could offer a breakthrough solution offering them an edge in the smartphone market.