September 8, 2009: Panasonic Electric Works has developed a sensor system that recognizes facial features in all lighting: dark, overly bright, and even behind glass, reports the Nikkei Business Daily.
The system, for use in a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera, combines an LED modulated light source for near-infrared light with image-processing circuitry, so that only near-infrared light reflected from the subject is processed; the resulting sharp image (QVGA-quality monochrome) is captured for face-recognition processing even in bright light that would wash out features, or as a car windshield reflects surrounding scenery, the paper notes. LED modulated light also is unaffected by sunlight or other sources, so it can work in the dark.
The sensor system allows shutter speeds up to 0.002 seconds, capable of identifying passengers in cars traveling up to 50kph; subjects can be up to 2-3m away (or up to ~10m by adding more LEDs).
Commercialization for the sensor system is planned for spring 2010; initial applications include security/crime prevention, such as cameras in structures like buildings and parking garages, and biometric identification. ATMs also could use the system to identify users by hand vein patterns, since conventional biometric readers encounter interfere by bright light in outdoor settings.