Shedding light on mobile devices

At Mobile World Congress 2018, tens of thousands of people will gather in Barcelona, where they will learn about some of the most exciting future trends in innovative mobile technologies around the world. Osram Opto Semiconductors, a leader in optoelectronics components and solutions, explains how applications in visible and invisible light are leading the way for the next generation of mobile devices.

Many of the key technologies behind advancements in mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and wearables, are based on the ubiquitous use of light. Display lighting and flash applications are simply scratching the surface of possibilities, while developments in infrared and laser technologies are further enabling a variety of functions in a wide spectrum of markets. Gesture recognition, iris scan or face recognition are just a few examples of how infrared light can be used in mobile devices.

Gaze or eye tracking in place of touch within mobile devices are also set to make handling much more intuitive and in line with increasingly digital lifestyles. But, it is the growing number of mobile applications, driven by users increasingly managing all aspects of their digital lives via mobile that are at the forefront of key mobile advancements. The increase of health conscious consumers, using wearables such as fitness tracker, and a growing number of applications for high-end virtual and augmented reality contribute to this trend.

Biometrical user identification is making waves in mobile device security. Iris scanning and facial recognition are among the most reliable and secure biometric user identification methods. They are an alternative to complex password management for mobile device security, access control, and increasingly verification for payments and other financial transactions.

Biometrics make use of human characteristics, such as specific structures within the iris, facial features or fingerprints. Sensors identify these characteristics and compare them with previously stored biometrical data. In order to function reliably in mobile devices, both iris scanning and facial recognition require further special infrared LEDs to illuminate the target area. This technology was already being used in access control systems, with most countries using it for immigration purposes.

Iris scanners are one of the most reliable and safe methods of biometric identification. When a user wishes to gain access to a device, the iris scanners illuminate the eye with infrared light. Software will then analyse an image of the iris pattern, which is unique to every individual. Facial recognition systems identify characteristics, which are independent of facial expressions. This would include the length or width of the nose, the depth of eye sockets and the shape of the cheekbones. Additional illumination of the face with infrared light ensures highly reliable facial recognition at all times. The rate of locking out authorised users is less than one per cent, and the probability of the wrong person gaining access to the device is around one in a million.

Biometric measurements are also commonly found in health equipment. It has become more common for people to monitor their own health and fitness levels. The technology that people are using nowadays to measure their health were only found in doctors’ surgeries not too long ago. Thanks to optical technology, almost every fitness tracker has the ability to measure heart rate. Highly efficient LEDs play an essential role in implementing these energy-efficient and compact sensor solutions.

Hartmut Schittko, marketing director emitter laser sensor at Osram Opto Semiconductors, commented: “The market applications for light in mobile devices are almost limitless, including security, healthcare, personal fitness, retail, eCommerce and many more. Key trends include miniaturisation and fitting increased functionality into devices, even if the devices themselves vary in physical size. There is also an increased impetus for mobile manufacturers to leverage sensors to deliver the latest in biometric security, as well as the need for mobile devices to fit seamlessly into consumers’ digital lives. These are just some trends driving adoption of some very exciting innovations.

“Osram Opto Semiconductors’ broad technology base allows us to speedily introduce new solutions, ensuring we stay at the forefront of the use of light in mobile applications,” adds Hartmut Schittko.

Osram Opto Semiconductors is exhibiting at Mobile World Congress in Hall 2 on stand 2F6 – from 26th February to 1st March, at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona.

www.osram.com

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