Toshiba unveiled a new 2.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor called the T4KE1. Designed specifically for mobile devices, this sensor boasts near-infrared iris recognition capabilities.

Biometric recognition has become more commonplace in high-end mobile devices, as an increasing number of smartphones are coming with fingerprint scanners for extra security. Iris scanners are believed to be the next major trend for mobile flagships.

Iris scanners are among the top highlights of Microsoft's latest Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL smartphones, which have stirred a lot of interest since their debut earlier this week. The handsets come with high-end specs and features all around, but their advanced infrared iris scanning capabilities truly make them stand out from the crowd.

Toshiba is banking on this trend and is paving the way for more mobile devices to pack iris scanners, introducing its new T4KE1 CMOS image sensor capable of near-infrared iris recognition.

This 2.1-megapixel CMOS sensor is specifically designed with mobile devices in mind, as its small 1/7.3-inch size provides a number of potential smartphone applications. The sensor also includes an MIPI CSI-2 serial interface, which further boosts compatibility, considering that it's commonly used in mobile devices.

The Toshiba T4KE1 omits the regular color filter in the pixel structure, which allows it to achieve higher sensitivity than conventional CMOS image sensors when it comes to capturing images for recognition, and to increase the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum's sensitivity.

The new T4KE1 from Toshiba further offers 60 FPS, 1080p resolution, and its CMOS image sensors prioritize the NIR spectrum over the traditional color filters in the pixel structure used of standard sensor to deliver heightened sensitivity.

"This is an exciting time for the image sensor business, as new applications and technologies are affording electronics manufacturers wider opportunities for improving their devices' capabilities," said Andrew Burt, vice president of the Image Sensor Business Unit, System LSI Group at Toshiba America Electronic Comp (TAEC).

"Toshiba is helping device makers meet these growing requirements by continually introducing innovative technology into our CMOS image sensor family, such as the NIR iris recognition in our new T4KE1."

Iris recognition is widely seen as a better solution than fingerprint scanners — which often require several attempts to recognize a fingerprint. Furthermore, iris recognition also delivers a higher degree of protection than traditional passcodes, granting access only to the authorized device owner.

Toshiba's new T4KE1 is set to enter mass production in December, which means that we may see more mobile devices with iris recognition technology next year.

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