Modern face scanning systems are usually equipped with bulky projectors and lenses, which makes it difficult to integrate them into the field of robotics and augmented reality. In addition, they have high power consumption, and in general, they are quite large for devices such as smartphones. So scientists Yu-Heng Hong, Hao-Chung Kuo, and Yao-Wei Huang and their colleagues decided to develop a smaller, flatter, and less energy-consuming facial recognition system. They replaced the traditional spot projector with a low-power laser, and equipped their scanner with a flat surface (metasurface) made of gallium arsenide, which significantly reduced its size. On top of this thin metal surface, the researchers engraved a nanosurface pattern that scatters light as it passes through the material. And they tested their invention on an exact copy of the bust of David by Michelangelo.

The scientists were satisfied with the results of the test. Their system worked just as well as the technology currently used on smartphones. In addition, it turned out that the new system generates almost one and a half times more infrared dots (about 45,700) than the existing commercial technology, and the area of the generating device is as much as 233 times smaller than that of a standard spot projector. “This is a compact and cost-effective system that can be integrated into a single chip using PCSEL (Photonic Crystal Surface Optical Laser) technology. And the metasurface allows you to generate customizable and versatile light patterns, expanding the application possibilities of the system.”

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