Google introduced Face Unlock in Android back in 2011 with the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. However, the feature did not become popular as it was slow, unreliable, and could easily be spoofed. Then, Samsung,Vivo andOnePlusbrought back facial image recognition to the fore in 2017 with their new smartphones.
It was Apple who delivered the solution in the facial recognition field with 3D sensing using facial scanning, which relied on hardware collectively termed as the ‘TrueDepth camera’, which included an IR camera, a dot projector, and more. Apple termed this solution ‘Face ID’, and used it as the only biometric authentication method on theiPhone X, removing the ‘Touch ID’ fingerprint sensor in the process. In the Android world, Sony demoed 3D sensing in smartphones at MWC Shanghai 2017
Now, a report by Digitimes
states that Android smartphone vendors including Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are expected to equip their new phones launching in 2018 with 3D sensing functionality. The report also stated that suppliers such as Largan Precision, Sunny Optical, Orbbec and Himax Technologies would be the major beneficiaries.
states that Largan Precision is currently in the most advantageous position in terms of technology, patent, capacity and design, as it has solutions for 3D sensing receivers and transmitter lens modules. The supplier is expected to obtain steady orders from existing clients. The report added that Largan is currently a camera lens supplier for iPhone devices as well as multiple Android smartphones.
On the other hand, Digitimes
also states that Qualcomm, Himax and Truly Opto-electronics have also been jointly developing 3D sensing solutions. These solutions have been verified by Oppo and Xiaomi, according to the report.
The report noted that as another supply source, Sunny Optical’s structure-light 3D sensing solution is said to begin mass production in Q3 2018. Finally, it added that Orbbec is focusing on developing “3D sensors, algorithms, controller chips and structure-light 3D cameras”. The China-based supplier is said to be optimistic about landing orders from China’s smartphone brands in 2018.
All in all, it looks like Android OEMs are set to follow Apple’s lead and introduce 3D facial scanning biometrics in their 2018 smartphones. Although it remains to be seen how well the 3D sensors will work in terms of speed and accuracy, the race to install them in smartphones was inevitable at this point. In a related note, we hope that OEMs will keep the fingerprint sensor while experimenting with 3D sensors. Android is all about choice, so passing on some to the users will be welcome in this case.