Himax Unveils Android Phone With New 3D Sensing Technology - MWC 2018

Taiwanese fabless semiconductor manufacturer Himax unveiled a new Android smartphone prototype with its latest 3D sensing technology SLiM, having debuted the creation at the latest edition of Mobile World Congress earlier this week. The lineup was introduced as a sample series meant to provide original equipment manufacturers with working implementations of the SLiM platform, allowing them to inspect the technology and help them decide whether they want to utilize it in their own products in the future. Himax says the SLiM is already ready for flow production but didn't disclose when exactly it's planning to start mass-producing the system, having only said it's presently collaborating with a number of high-profile Android OEMs and is targeting commercialization in the first half of 2018.

The SLiM is a comprehensive platform for light-based 3D sensing which Himax created in partnership with Qualcomm and originally announced last August. The Android phone prototypes showcased at MWC 2018 were the first known implementations of the system. While light-based and advertised as extremely precise, the solution manages to circumvent infrared sensors, though Himax still claims its setup leverages "near-infrared" hardware, asserting the technology is "by far the best" solution for general 3D sensing applications that Android OEMs are presently able to purchase. While versatile in nature, the system is likely to be primarily adopted due to its ability to power facial recognition solutions, with biometric authentication gaining significant traction in the mobile industry in recent times.

The SLiM projects over 33,000 invisible dots onto an object in order to create a 3D depth map with an error rate of under a single percentage point and feed it to any kind of app. As such, the technology is touted as being capable of offering highly advanced face unlock solutions equally suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The projections themselves have been certified in accordance with relevant international standards and are guaranteed not to be harmful to the human eyes. The SLiM also requires under 400mW of power per a projector, with Himax claiming that makes it the most efficient mobile 3D sensing solution on the market. No pricing details have been disclosed as they're likely to vary across OEMs.

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