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The appeal of SWIR imaging technologies for mass markets – WEBCAST

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Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) imaging might be adopted by the consumer world in coming years, driven by under-display facial recognition. That could be a paradigm shift for this niche industry.

The Short Wave Infra-Red spectrum includes light with wavelengths from 1µm-3µm. SWIR imaging is currently used in defense, since it images through smoke, dust or fog and allows stealth laser target designation. It is also used in industry for sorting, content inspection and other applications. In 2021, SWIR area cameras were a niche with nearly 11,000 sold worldwide. However, between 2020 and 2021, big names from the consumer imaging industry created hype by announcing development of SWIR imagers. SWIR could replace Near Infrared (NIR) in 3D sensing modules, where SWIR will outperform NIR in range and reliability. Most of all, SWIR would enable better integration of facial recognition modules under displays, allowing smartphone makers to reach the holy grail of 1:1 screen-to-body ratios. Nevertheless, addressing mass markets will require technological disruptions. Defense or industrial systems use InGaAs sensors costing thousands of dollars, far too much for consumer integrators. Emerging technologies like quantum dots could solve this price issue, but reliability and lifetime need improvement. If this SWIR revolution happens, that could be paradigm shift with repercussions for the whole imaging world.

Most SWIR imaging systems will use sensors but also light sources where technological developments will be needed to address new markets. PISEO will give insights into this industry.

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