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Information Security Demands to Drive IR LED Market Growth in Handheld Device

Published: Jun 15,2015

The latest research by LEDinside, a division of TrendForce, sees a significant growth for the infrared (IR) LED market in the near future. “Handheld devices in particular constitute a very promising market because IR LEDs can bring many value-added features to these products, including information security and personal health management,” said LEDinside’s Assistant Research Manager Joanne Wu.

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“With ample room for growth and profit, the handheld device application is expected to become a strong driving force behind the IR LED market.”

Wu added: “The 940nm IR LEDs are currently used in proximity sensors to help eliminate false touching and reduce power consumption. However, the IR LED technology has also branched into other advanced applications, such as finger vein recognition and iris recognition. Major IR LED manufacturers include Epitex, New Japan Radio Corporation, Rohm and Nichia in Japan; Osram Opto in Europe; Vishay in the U.S.; Epistar, Epileds and High Power Lighting in Taiwan.

Enhancing user security for handheld consumer electronic products such as smartphones are becoming more important as these devices incorporates identity verification and mobile payment technologies. Biometric recognition systems are especially required to meet a higher standard than ever before. Among the various technologies and methods, iris recognition is presently regarded as the most widely adopted and secure form of biometric recognition.

Whereas a fingerprint has about 100 distinct marks or recognizable data points, an iris has around 2,000. Hence, the pattern of an iris is far more complex than a fingerprint’s and this results in a more accurate reading. The current iris recognition system combines three pieces of technologies: an infrared CCD camera with 700-900nm NIR LED, an automated camera control mechanism, and a biometric recognition software. A user can simply look at a smartphone’s screen in order to activate its built-in iris recognition system. The device first emits an IR LED light, and then the smartphone’s front camera takes a picture of the user’s iris, which would be verified by the software.

Iris recognition systems are increasingly implemented applications related to personal and information security (i.e. airport, ATMs). On the mobile application front, Japan-based Oki Electric introduced the first mobile phone with an iris recognition system in 2006, and since then the technology has gone through several years of maturation. Fujitsu, another Japanese tech company, also launched a smartphone with iris recognition technology earlier this year. Known as ARROWS NX F-04G, this smartphone’s biometric recognition system provides users additional security when accessing online services and authenticate mobile payments.

Other mobile brands are also following suit and filing patents for their solutions. Therefore, competing iris recognition systems will soon appear in various consumer electronic applications like Windows 10 notebook, tablets and mobile phones. At present, major developers of this technology include Panasonic, Oki Electric, IrisGuard, EyeLock and IriTech. Their efforts will create new opportunities in the field of information security.

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