Science Technology

Leading the tide of Internet of Everything, optical technology creates a full-stack 3D technology layout

“The essence of 3D vision is to solve the problem of the connection between the digital world and the physical world. In the era of digital economy, a large number of intelligent devices need to interact with our real living environment to build an era of interconnection of all things. These need to be solved through visual technology.” In an exclusive interview with the electronic engineering editor of OFweek, the founder of Optical Science and Technology&CEO Zhu Li said.
“We hope to combine optics and artificial intelligence technology in depth to provide the market with a complete visual perception solution.”
Dr. Zhu Li, founder of Photovision Technology&CEO
With the rapid development of optoelectronic technology and AI vision technology, the 3D vision technology of machine replacing human eyes for recognition has been widely used in both consumer and industrial application scenarios with the characteristics of automation, convenience, safety, stability and accuracy.
It is reported that Optical Identification Technology, founded in 2018, is a 3D visual perception company dedicated to providing self-developed nano-photon chips combined with artificial intelligence algorithms. The company’s core technology is mainly reflected in two aspects, namely optics and AI technology, including nano-optics technology with independent intellectual property rights, and a series of 3D camera optics and hardware systems, as well as 3D visual perception and interaction capabilities.
“Optical identification technology connects the upstream optical components and the downstream specific application scenarios, and integrates the components with our optical system and AI algorithm to provide customers with 3D visual perception solutions.” Dr. Zhu said, “In terms of application, the off-screen 3D face recognition scheme of mobile phones, human-computer interaction in the intelligent cockpit of cars, visual navigation and obstacle avoidance of robots, and biometric identification of IoT devices are the four key areas of optical identification technology.”
It is understood that optical identification technology can provide global car companies with complete solutions from the underlying 3D camera to application algorithms. This year, the world’s first vehicle-level structured light 3D camera was successfully debugged, which will provide new technical ideas for major automobile enterprises.
Leading the tide of Internet of Everything, optical technology creates a full-stack 3D technology layout
Optical discrimination technology vehicle-level structured light 3D camera
In the smart phone industry, optical identification technology is the first company in the industry, and is also the only company that can truly realize 3D vision solutions under the screen. This year, Optics and OPPO jointly released the world’s first flexible OLED off-screen 3D concept mobile phone, which successfully solved the problem of “Qi Liu Hai” in some mobile phone screens, integrating a complete comprehensive screen and advanced 3D visual functions.
Optical+AI full stack scheme capability
At present, the mainstream 3D vision technology routes in the industry mainly include three kinds: structured light technology, time of flight (ToF), and binocular imaging.
With its strong technology R&D capability, in just three years, optical discrimination technology has opened up a full-stack technology chain integrating software and hardware from optical modules, 3D camera modules, optimization solutions of embedded systems, and 3D face algorithms of intelligent hardware, and covered two path solutions of structured light and ToF technology, becoming a 3D visual perception technology enterprise integrating production, education and research..
“The technical characteristics of structured light and ToF are very different.” Dr. Zhu Li said: “The near-range accuracy of structured light technology is relatively high, which is more suitable for near-range 3D visual perception in static environment; while ToF can see farther, which is more suitable for mid-range and long-range 3D visual perception in dynamic environment.”
In scene applications, such as face payment, access control, mobile phone, car DMS and other recognition distance within one meter, structured light technology will be more suitable; ToF technology is suitable for robot navigation and obstacle avoidance scenarios.
Dr. Zhu Li believes that in terms of cost, taking consumer electronics as an example, the cost of structured light and ToF solution is relatively close in similar application scenarios, so different technology paths are mainly selected according to the needs of the scenario.
It is understood that optical discrimination technology has a product matrix represented by Aurora structured light and Stellar series ToF depth cameras, which can meet the specific needs of 3D visual perception in different scenarios, including intelligent terminals, robots, car cabins, factories and logistics. At the same time, in the field of software algorithms, optical discrimination technology has also built a multi-scenario algorithm barrier to help hardware product matrix enable 3D vision technology for more scenes.
Technological innovation, breaking the Apple barrier
As early as 2018, optical technology began to explore the application of 3D vision technology on smart phones. Up to now, Optical Identification Technology has achieved the only 3D structured light solution in the world that does not rely on Apple VCSEL.
In 2017, Apple released the iPhone X with FaceID based on 3D structured light module for the first time. At present, more than one billion mobile phones are using this technology, but FaceID is not popular on Android phones.
Dr. Zhu Li believes that the core pain points that Apple FaceID is difficult to popularize are mainly in three aspects:
First, the FaceID scheme must have holes on the screen, and the resulting “big bang” and “pill screen” occupy the screen position, limiting the flexibility of mobile phone design;
Second, Apple itself has a strong patent barrier, which limits the application of domestic mobile phone manufacturers;
Third, the cost of components related to FaceID is high.
And the off-screen 3D structured light technology of Optical Identification Technology has solved these three pain points in an all-round way, and compared with Apple FaceID, the cost has been reduced by half, which has become the key to promote the 3D off-screen Face ID.
After last year’s release of the rigid OLED off-screen 3D scheme with ZTE, this year, Optical Vision Technology and OPPO launched the world’s first flexible OLED off-screen 3D concept mobile phone.
The world’s first flexible OLED off-screen 3D concept mobile phone
It is understood that this flexible OLED off-screen 3D concept mobile phone is based on the off-screen 3D camera solution of optical discrimination technology, with the 3D structured light technology of self-developed nano-optical chip as the core, effectively solves the problem of giving consideration to the integrity of the screen appearance and the camera performance of the front camera, and truly hides the front camera under the screen.
At the same time, the combination of nano-photon chip and edge emitting laser (EEL) solves the problem that the low light transmittance of the screen leads to the weak pain point of the detection signal at the receiving end. Even if the camera is hidden under the screen, it can still achieve excellent photographic effect.
Leading the tide of Internet of Everything, optical technology creates a full-stack 3D technology layout
As we all know, the biggest difficulty of structured light under the screen is “light transmittance”. Placing a 3D camera behind a mobile phone screen will cause about 20 times more optical loss. However, the “off screen solution” of Optical Authentication Technology can still achieve the same performance as Apple’s “off screen solution”, achieve 99.9% recognition rate, and meet the requirements of relevant industry technical standards of the National Bank Card Detection Center.
Dr. Zhu Li said that in order to test the recognition rate of the “off screen scheme”, the team of Optical Science and Technology selected Lhasa, the city of “Sun City”, to complete and pass the imaging and photosensitivity tests in extreme light environment under the outdoor light intensity of 120000 lux.
Dr. Zhu Li believes that the 3D structured light under the screen can be applied on both flexible OLED and rigid OLED screens at the same time, which means that the technology has become universal in the Android smartphone ecosystem and has the possibility of large-scale application.
Review achievements and plan for the future
The achievements of Fupan Optical Technology in the past four years can be summed up in several dimensions.
In the technical strategic dimension, the technical route of optical identification technology covers structured light and ToF, and the core technology has achieved a breakthrough in the whole stack technology chain from optical system to chip+3D visual perception, becoming the only company in the world that can truly realize 3D structured light vision solution under the screen. Build the software and hardware integration solution matrix with technology and products as the core, and meet the diversified 3D vision upgrading requirements based on the industry pain points.
In the business market dimension, Optical Authentication Technology focuses on the organic combination of technology and actual scenarios. Its 3D vision technology has been applied in smart phones, cars, robots, the Internet of Things and other fields, and has been deeply bound with downstream customer systems for a long time, so that Optical Authentication Technology can deeply understand and grasp the business needs of customers, thus establishing a long-term business barrier.
Referring to the next step of planning, Dr. Zhu Li replied that in the next few years, Optical Authentication Technology will focus on promoting the four business directions of smart phones, cars, robots and the Internet of Things, thereby leveraging the 3D visual perception upgrade of all walks of life and promoting the arrival of the era of Internet of Things.
Dr. Zhu Li believes that the Chinese market is a very fast market that can realize the transformation from technology to product. There are many market opportunities, fast iteration speed, and the product can be rapidly improved, but the competition is also very fierce. Once a market runs out, there may be many people participating, and profits will be affected.
Although the entry threshold of overseas market is relatively high, once it is entered, the profits and market stability that can be obtained will be better, Dr. Zhu said frankly. In the future, “going out to sea” may become a new business growth point of optical authentication technology.