Leading smart phone manufacturers have implemented two distinct technologies in their products for 3D sensing applications. These technologies are structured light (SL) and time of flight (ToF), which both have sophisticated optical systems that include transmit and receive channels. The challenge for component suppliers for these systems is achieving high performance solutions in exceedingly small form factors at low cost.
Meta-optics from Metalenz have advantages for both SL and ToF relative to conventional solutions. Meta-optics can improve system level signal-to-noise-ratio, which results in better performance in sunlight, higher resolution, and improved battery life.
Metalenz is working with leading mobile device companies to enable next generation products. In the near future, meta-optics from Metalenz will become an integral part of many of the leading mobile devices.
Mobile phone companies use ToF for world-facing cameras to create a 3D map of the environment that can be utilized for AR/VR, health and wellness, and shopping applications. Since the ToF system is active a significant amount of time, it reduces battery life. Meta-optics improve ToF signal-to-noise ratio, which can allow the system to maintain the same resolution with lower transmit power, which results in longer battery life.
Structured Light (SL)
Mobile phone companies use structured light (SL) high resolution 3D sensing technology to enhance security by unlocking the phone when the owner’s face is recognized. SL is also used to enhance the functionality of the selfie camera. SL systems project a pattern of infrared light onto the user’s face and measure distortion in the return signal to obtain a 3D map of the face and confirm the user’s identity.
Unfortunately, the face identification system does not always recognize the user’s face, especially if the user is in sunlight or is further from the phone. Meta-optics will play a key role in making face identification more robust.
SL projectors use light from VCSEL arrays to create a complex pattern of dots on its target. Typically, these dot patterns are projected by diffractive optics, however, it may require several lenses in addition to the diffractive. Meta-optics, with as few as a single element, can project dot patterns with superior performance to a diffractive optic. The advantages include higher efficiency, wider field of view, more dots, and better contrast
Meta-optic’s technical benefits result in a face identification that works better, particularly when the person is further away from the phone or in sunlight.