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2-in-1 iris scanner and camera modules could accelerate mid-range adoption

Dongwoon Anatech Co. Ltd. has developed a combined iris scanning and processing component that could cut the cost of bringing the tech to smartphones.

Published onAugust 26, 2016

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 iris scanner registration

The inclusion of iris scanning technology inside Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 sets a another new standard for smartphone security. However, like all new developments, it’s not cheap to implement and will take a while to trickle down to lower cost models.

This is partly because a front facing camera component is used along side a separate chip for authenticating the scanned iris against registered copies, requiring the purchase of multiple components. Combining these two essential features on to a single chip would help handset manufacturers save on both development and components costs, allowing them to bring iris scanning technology to lower cost smartphone models. Fortunately this is exactly what Dongwoon Anatech Co. Ltd. has achieved.

“Integrated modules can reduce cost and it is more advantageous from a design perspective since it takes up lesser space within a smartphone .. It is predicted that camera modules with IR filters will become a trend for iris authentication solution in the future.” – Dongwoon President Kim Dong-cheol.
IR filter changer drive IC
An employee from Dongwoon examines an IR filter changer driver for iris authentication

The company has announced the development of an infrared filter changer driver IC that can authenticate an iris using infrared light wavelengths rather than visible rays of light. The camera can still function as a regular selfie camera too, as the design features an actuator that raises an IR filter in front of the camera lens when scanning an eye. Japanese semiconductor has also produced a very similar chip that uses infrared technology.

The cost of production is expected to fall by around 30 percent compared with using two separate components. The company also has a similar chip design that integrates optical image stabilization into the IC, which usually multiplies costs 10 fold. Hopefully this new design can bring these high-quality components to the market at reduced costs as well.

Samsung explains how the Galaxy Note 7 iris scanner works

Who knows, we might see a lot more smartphones boasting iris scanning technology in the next year or so, and they might not all come with flagship price tags either.

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