Boston-based company Metalenz recently unveiled its new imaging system, dubbed “Polar ID,” at the Qualcomm Technologies’ annual Snapdragon Summit. The company positions this system as the world’s first for consumer devices capable of sensing the full polarization of light, aiming to serve as a face unlock solution for smartphones.
In essence, polarization refers to the orientation of light waves as they interact with a surface. Unlike traditional imaging systems, Polar ID, as described by Metalenz, captures the full polarization state of light, enabling the extraction of additional information such as facial contours and distinguishing between human faces and artificial or non-human surfaces from a single image.
Metalenz asserts that Polar ID can determine the “polarization signature” of a face, which, when incorporated as a layer of information, can help in detecting even sophisticated 3D masks and spoofing instruments as non-human. The technology was demonstrated on a smartphone reference design powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform.
The CEO & Co-founder of Metalenz, Rob Devlin, highlighted the compact design of the technology, which, according to him, eliminates the need for a large display notch typically required for hardware-based facial recognition systems. He also mentioned that the high-resolution capability of Polar ID remains unaffected even under conditions where the user is wearing sunglasses and a surgical mask.
This development comes after Metalenz’s earlier collaboration with Dilusense, a supplier of 3D sensing systems based in Hefei, China. The partnership aimed at developing Smartlocks and Payment Kiosks with facial recognition capabilities. The products from this collaboration feature Metalenz’s “Orion” meta-optic dot projector along with Dilusense’s technology for 3D face imaging.
Metalenz has said that Polar ID is in the early stages of evaluation by “several top smartphone Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)”, with additional evaluation kits slated for release in early 2024. The unveiling of Polar ID indicates Metalenz’s ongoing efforts in the domain of optical solutions for biometric security, as the company seeks to offer a different approach to face unlock technology for smartphones.
The introduction of Polar ID into the market might bring a new dimension to face unlock technology, and as smartphone manufacturers evaluate this technology, the industry will be closely watching the potential impacts on smartphone security and user authentication.
October 26, 2023 – by Alex Perala