Optical Sensors Advancing Mobile Technology

(Author: Roger Chu, Research Director, LEDinsidehttp:// Translator: Emma Chang, Editor, LEDinside)

Mobile World Congress Shanghai, which is held from 28 June to 1 July 2016, features two “Connected Lifestyle” halls that showcase up-to-date products and services. Bodo Ischebeck, Vice President and General Manager, Infrared Components, OSRAM OS, delivered a speech titled “Optical Sensors Advancing Mobile Technology.”  Ischebeck introduced optical sensors’ applications and outlook of biometrics, biosensor, VR/AR and 3D sensor applications.

Bodo Ischebeck, Vice President and General Manaager, Infrared Components at Osram Opto Semiconductors. (All photos courtesy of LEDinside)

Opportunities and challenges of biosensor system on mobile devices

Bodo Ischebeck told LEDinside that iris recognition and facial recognition on mobile devices with built-in IR, including smartphones and laptops are the latest trend. Fujitsu launched the world’s first smartphone that unlocks the screen by scanning eyes with an iris authentication system in 2015. The smartphone accommodates Osram Opto Semiconductor manufactured IR LED, which enhances the smartphone’s security in online banking and shopping and other high security setting applications.

As the characteristic features of iris are unique for everyone, iris recognition technology provides higher level of security compared to fingerprint recognition. Therefore, iris recognition is the new authentication method for unlocking mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.

Even though biometric recognition technology future looks bright, Ischebeck also mentioned that the cost of iris recognition system is relatively high. The cost issue lies in the camera system rather than IR LED components.

Existing cameras tend to block IR light at 810nm to avoid disruption in photo quality. Therefore, iris recognition system is equipped with an independent camera to detect IR light. With the advancement of technology, system manufacturers are working toward the integration of IR sensors in existing camera modules in order to lower the cost. However, It’s expected to take R&D more time to tackle the issue of integration.

Bodo Ischebeck emphasized that compared to relatively high costs, meeting consumers’ need is the key of iris recognition. The case is explicit in mobile payment, which demands high level of personal data security, iris recognition is no doubt a killer function. However, mobile payment has not matured as the infrastructure of the service is still in construction. Therefore, it’s to be observed whether Internet service provider or brand manufacturers are to accelerate the launch of this application.

Many smartphone manufacturers are interested in incorporating iris recognition into their products. Osram found that Samsung has adopted iris recognition smartphones in India’s governmental bidding as governmental entities require higher level of protection to confidential data. Though only a small amount of smartphones incorporate iris recognition, the outlook is promising.

Iris recognition technology utilizes video camera with IR illumination to acquire images of the iris for characteristic analysis.

Optical sensor technology realizes virtual reality applications

In areas include augmented reality and virtual reality, optical sensor technology also provide technical support. In gaming applications, VR glasses and head mounted displays (HMD) that are equipped with IR LED and IR tracking technology form a complete tracking system that tracks user’s eye movement and body movement direction.

Meanwhile, Foveated Rendering opens up new applications to eye tracking system and makes it one of the highlighted technology on VR market. Using optical sensors, foveated rendering analyses the fixation point of eyes and provides higher level of resolution to the corresponding point while presenting other part of the image at lower resolution level. The rendering naturally lightens up the operating load of the VR device, enabling fast, accurate and low-delaying track rendering.

Ischebeck also added that given that each VR manufacturers use different tracking technology, the optical sensors are required components. These sensors also account for a great share in the device’s cost. It’s expected that VR manufacturers will continue to optimize the system, including integrate more functions and further lower costs. Osram is the sole manufacturer that is capable of providing comprehensive solutions to VR and AR system manufacturers. The complete solutions include the emitter, detector and even IR laser. These key components are able to realize applications include position detection, gesture recognition, projection and eye tracking and other technologies. Osram has invested a great amount of resource in engineering and R&D to support VR manufacturers by providing calibrated, optimized optical sensors to its clients.


VR glasses and wearable head devices that incorporate IR LED and IR tracking technology form a tracking system that track users’ eye ball movement and direction, providing smoother gaming experience to VR users.

Osram Opto Semiconductor actively expands and seeks long-term traction

“Optical sensors have been widely applied in smartphones, tablet PC and other portable devices. For today’s portable devices, an optical sensor is no longer a good-to-have function but a must-have one,” said Ischebeck.

“Osram Opto Semiconductors strive to provide ideal components and versatile solutions for these portable devices in the hope of realizing more advance applications in the future. The company scales up its production capacity to meet the market demand. Osram invested huge resource in R&D. The German company provides technical support by recruiting a number of China-based R&D professionals, marketing and sales.”

Osram is a century-old business that actively seeks growing traction on the market and strives for sustainable economic performance to serve our customers.

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