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Evolution of the 3D Sensing Market

Futuristic Applications Now a Reality!

Over the past few years, “three-dimensional (3D) depth sensing technology“ has had a somewhat limited presence in the consumer electronics market. Its first application was in the field of gaming, but recently it has found a new home in 3D imaging and iris detection.  The reason for the expanded usage has much to do with the anticipated capability that every mobile device will shoot pictures in 3D instead of 2D!

3D sensing technology allows for a variety of unique consumer applications.  For example, a person can refocus pictures after they are already taken; use augmented reality to ensure proper assembly of a child’s toys; install parts on a vehicle to specification just like an actual mechanic; or 3D print almost anything in the world and enjoy it while sitting in their own living room. This is just the start!

Iris ScanIris Scanning and Other Applications

Much of this same sensor technology is required to make iris scanning possible. It allows camera modules to scan your eye, compare the iris to an image on file, and confirm the identity of the user in much the same way finger prints were used in the past. This leads to consumer applications such as home entry, automotive security and mobile pay. The industry also expects 3D technology to enable robotics and drones to “see” the environment in a manner similar to humans.  What was once considered science fiction is becoming a reality and will potentially be part of our everyday life during 2016.

Making it Happen

In order for these futuristic applications to happen, two major factors are required – content and environment. In simple terms, “content” provides a reason for the technology to exist while the “environment” provides the support (eg. cell towers) to enable it to work.  Current mobile pay systems provide a good example of content and environment: there is a strong security reason to use iris scanning devices for current mobile pay systems (content) and there is already hardware and retailers in place (environment).  As new applications are explored, they cannot be considered “ready” for production until both content and environment requirements are met.  Since these new uses may easily require more than 1 billion units a year, the capability to mass produce is a challenge that must be addressed.

Volume Issue

The critical production issue is focused on capacity demands. Materion is able to manufacture and supply precision optical filters in high volume. Over the last four years in preparation for this market, Materion developed processes that allow their optical filters to meet industry pricing and technology requirements. The new processes and supply chains provide low-cost, high-volume solutions to meet the requirements of the mobile market while ensuring low angle shift, high transmission and high yield.  In order to mature 3D sensing technology, Materion is continuing to invest time, critical creative employees and capital to focus on development.  

Materion’s Technology Advantage

Due to the high barriers of entry and length of time to market, there are few manufacturers able to supply critical components to be used in 3D imaging such as optical filters for the 3D camera module. Choosing a supplier is very important to every consumer electronic company. You want to be confidant that your choice has updated technology and the production capacity to ramp up volume as required. To see how Materion meets this criterion and to discuss a best solution for your product, please contact Robert Legg, Materion Commercial Business Development Manager: Robert.Legg@Materion.com