Metalenz launches Polar ID providing secure face unlock security for smartphones

2 mins read

Meta-optics specialist Metalenz has unveiled Polar ID, a new face unlock solution.

It is said to be the world’s only consumer-grade imaging system that can sense the full polarization state of light, which means that the Polar ID is able to deliver next level biometric security.

By using breakthrough advances in meta-optic capability, Polar ID can accurately capture the unique “polarization signature” of a human face. With this additional layer of information, even the most sophisticated 3D masks and spoof instruments are immediately detected as non-human.

Facial authentication can provide a seamless method for unlocking phones and allowing digital payment. However, to make the solution sufficiently secure requires expensive, bulky, and often power-hungry optical modules. Historically, this has limited the implementation of face unlock to only a few high-end phone models.

Polar ID has harnessed meta-optic technology to extract additional information such as facial contour details and to detect human tissue liveness from a single image. It is significantly more compact and cost effective than existing “Structured Light” face authentication solutions which require an expensive dot-pattern projector and multiple images.

Now demonstrated on a smartphone reference design powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform, Polar ID has the efficiency, footprint, and price point to enable any Android smartphone OEM to bring face unlock to the millions of mobile devices that currently use fingerprint sensors.

“Size, cost, and performance, those are the key metrics in the consumer industry”, said Rob Devlin, Metalenz CEO. “Polar ID offers an advantage in all three. Its small enough to fit in the most challenging form factors, eliminating the need for a large notch in the display. Its secure enough that it doesn’t get fooled by the most sophisticated 3D masks. Its substantially higher resolution than existing facial authentication solutions, so even if you’re wearing sunglasses and a surgical mask, the system still works. As a result, Polar ID delivers secure facial recognition at less than half the size and cost of incumbent solutions.”

“With each new generation of our flagship Snapdragon 8 series, our goal is to deliver the next generation of cutting-edge smartphone imaging capabilities to consumers. Our advanced Qualcomm Spectra ISP and Qualcomm Hexagon NPU were specifically designed to enable complex new imaging solutions, and we are excited to work with Metalenz to support their new Polar ID biometric imaging solution on our Snapdragon mobile platform for the first time,” said Judd Heape, VP of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies.

"Polar ID is a uniquely powerful biometric imaging solution that combines our polarization image sensor with post-processing algorithms and sophisticated machine learning models to reliably and securely recognise and authenticate the phone’s registered user. Working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to implement our solution on their reference smartphone powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, we were able to leverage the advanced image signal processing capabilities of the Qualcomm Spectra ISP while also implementing mission critical aspects of our algorithms in the secure framework of the Qualcomm Hexagon NPU, to ensure that the solution is not only spoof-proof but also essentially unhackable” explained Pawel Latawiec, CTO of Metalenz. “The result is an extremely fast and compute efficient face unlock solution ready for OEMs to use in their next generation of Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered flagship Android smartphones.”

Polar ID is under early evaluation with several top smartphone OEMs, and additional evaluation kits will be made available in early 2024.