In response to the rising demand for mobile payment, Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone Galaxy Note 7 includes iris recognition as a standard feature that assists in user authentication. The arrival of Galaxy Note 7 is expected to trigger a new round of hardware competition among smartphone brands as they will also likely to incorporate iris recognition into their flagship devices. According to the latest analysis from LEDinside, a division of TrendForce, iris and facial recognition features will gradually become prevalent in mobile devices. LEDinside further estimates that in 2020, global shipments of mobile devices with the iris and facial recognition features will reach 400 million units. By that time, the market value of infrared LEDs (IR LEDs) for iris and facial recognition will total around US$250 million. Thus, biometric recognition has become one of the most potentially profitable applications for IR LEDs.
Currently, most commercialized iris recognition systems use IR LEDs in the wavelength range of 700~900nm. IR LED can assist camera systems in capturing iris patterns because its light can gauge depths of fields and 3D features of objects when taking photos.
“Iris patterns stay the same throughout a person’s life, and each of them has around 244 distinct marks or recognizable data points, which are over ten times as many as those on a fingerprint,” said Roger Chu, research director of LEDinside. “Hence, an iris recognition system can offer more accurate user verification results and a higher level of information security in the mobile payment application.”
Chu also noted that though the iris recognition technology has been in existence for a long time, there are several obstacles preventing its widespread adoption: “The main problem is the cost of the camera system that supports iris recognition rather than the cost of the IR LED component. Currently, most cameras filter out infrared light to prevent signal noises from affecting image quality. Therefore, an iris scanner will actually need two cameras with one specifically for detecting infrared light, making the cost of the feature very high. Additionally, there are still many challenges to the development of mobile payment, including regulations and infrastructures. These issues must first be dealt with. If major e-commerce companies or consumer electronics brands can help in accelerating the growth of mobile payment in various types of transactions, then iris recognition technology will have a chance to develop rapidly as well."