ams (SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide supplier of high-performance sensor solutions and a leader on 3D face recognition capabilities for the mobile market, today makes it easier for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to implement popular 3D features by launching the Merano Hybrid, a module which integrates all the electrical and optical components of an infrared (IR) flood illuminator as well as a VCSEL driver into a single, compact package. This is the latest in a series of ongoing innovations and portfolio extensions serving the market needs of ams’ customers around the world, and an example of ams’ technology leadership in 3D illumination.
The highly power-efficient 2W Merano-Hybrid is suitable for use in the latest 3D sensing technologies, including the Time-of-Flight and Structured Light methods. Applications such as face recognition, augmented reality, 3D object scanning and 3D image rendering, as well as other industrial and automotive applications, will benefit from use of the Merano Hybrid.
Lukas Steinmann, Vice President & General Manager of the business line 3D Sensing Modules & Solutions at ams, said: “Benefiting from the unique expertise of ams in advanced optoelectronics technology, the Merano Hybrid module is the world’s smallest IR flood illuminator system with VCSEL driver integrated in volume production. Now mobile phone manufacturers can substantially reduce development time and risk of 3D features, and rely on the verified, documented performance characteristics of this commercial off-the-shelf solution for flood illumination.”
How Merano Hybrid lowers development barrier to providing popular 3D features
A flood illuminator, which consists of an IR laser emitter, a driver to control the laser’s operation, a lens and diffuser to shape the beam, plus various safety and protection functions, provides the modulated light output which – for example – a mobile phone’s face recognition system detects when reflected from the user.
Previously, OEMs had to make a flood illuminator by assembling a dedicated sub-system from multiple discrete electrical and optical components – a difficult design and production engineering task.
Now, with the introduction of Merano Hybrid, OEMs can use a complete, production-ready module supplied in a surface-mount 5.5mm x 3.6mm package which is just 3.7mm high. The space-saving benefits of integration in an optimized module package make this flood illuminator system easier to accommodate inside a mobile phone’s enclosure than a larger system assembled from discrete components.
ams has also built into the Merano Hybrid module a dedicated photodiode and interlock loop for eye safety monitoring. This significantly reduces the amount of additional engineering work required by OEMs to gain Class 1 eye safety certification.
The Merano Hybrid features the best-in-class VCSEL IR emitter and precise on-wafer optics for beam shaping and diffusion, resulting in very high-power efficiency. The low power consumption of the Merano Hybrid module reduces the drain on the phone battery and eases system power management.
Sharper, more detailed depth maps for advanced 3D applications
Merano Hybrid’s combination of a high-efficiency VCSEL emitter and a high-frequency laser driver has been optimized for use in mobile 3D applications. It supports very fast modulation of the laser’s output, which in turn enables advanced applications requiring greater accuracy and detailed 3D depth maps. For example, a major manufacturer of Android-based smartphones is already using this technology to judge depth and distance to take photography to new levels on rear cameras. Used together with pre-loaded live video and measurement applications, customers can now blur out the background in real time as they take a video, adding more creative flair to movies. They can also swap between foreground and background focus with ease, to switch up the focus with a tap. Meanwhile, paired with the measurement app, the camera acts as a 3D camera, judging width, height, area, volume, and more when you put an object in frame.
The Merano Hybrid module is available for sampling now. For sample requests or for more technical information, go to https://ams.com/merano-hybrid.