Osram infrared LEDs enable smartphone unlocking by iris scanning

July 20, 2015
IREDs from Osram are being used as the light source to unlock mobile devices by scanning the iris of the user.

Infrared light-emitting diodes (IREDs) from Osram Opto Semiconductors (Regensburg, Germany) are being used as the light source to unlock mobile devices for the first time by scanning the iris of the user. Iris scanning is being used in the ARROWS NX F-04G smartphone from Fujitsu Limited, which is being marketed by the Japanese telecommunications company NTT DOCOMO.

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This smartphone, which is currently only available in Japan, is the first in the world with this extremely secure functionality for consumers, and Osram says these IREDs are the only LEDs capable of the high power needed for iris scanning from a compact package. "We are delighted that once more an innovation from our company has made its way into an everyday application and has set new standards for the entire industry," said Bodo Ischebeck, VP of Infrared Components at Osram Opto Semiconductors.

Secure methods for unlocking cell phones and tablet computers are gaining in importance because these devices are being used more and more for sensitive applications such as online banking and online shopping. Manufacturers are therefore turning more and more to biometric identification. In addition to fingerprint scans, many manufacturers are now considering iris scanning. This new biometric unlocking method involves illuminating the eye with infrared light. The camera on the smartphone simultaneously takes a picture of the iris in which characteristic features are then identified (see image below; image credit: Fujitsu).

The Oslux SFH 4780S LED from Osram's subsidiary Opto Semiconductors currently offers the best size-to-performance ratio and for the first time opens up compact and reliable iris scanning for mobile devices. It is only 2.4 mm high and achieves a typical radiant intensity of 2900 mW per steradiana combination that at present only this infrared LED can provide. The Oslux SFH 4780S has a wavelength of 810 nm, which enables the iris scanner to identify iris patterns for all eye colorsbrown, blue, green and graywith a high degree of reliability. The light source is also extremely efficient so does not involve an unnecessary drain on mobile device batteries.

For developing the IRED, Osram Opto Semiconductors was recently presented with the 2015 Kaiser Friedrich Research Award.

SOURCE: Osram; http://www.osram-os.com/osram_os/en/press/press-releases/ir-devices-and-laser-diodes/2015/world-premiere-infrared-led-from-osram-for-unlocking-smartphones/index.jsp

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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