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Trinamix is introducing a 3D imaging solution that helps prevent fraud when someone tries to log into a system using facial recognition.

The tech is about making sure we can trust our devices to not betray us when someone else gets their hands on them.

With organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, it’s possible to trick facial-recognition software by holding up a 2D picture of someone’s face. But Trinamix’s solution can detect depth in an image and check for “live skin,” making it a lot harder to spoof unlocking systems for computers or smartphones.

Users find such systems convenient because they no longer have to type in passwords, but if someone spoofs a face, they can gain access to bank accounts and other sensitive information. 3D sensing has been around for a while, but it has been difficult to do with increasingly popular OLED screens, Trinamix 3D imaging director Dr. Stefan Metz said in an interview with VentureBeat.

He said the new tech can add a layer of security using its ability to recognize full-face masks, or 3D sculptures of faces. It can work with face unlock and mobile payments and access control system software. The company was founded in 2015 as a division of BASF and has been working on the tech ever since.

“When you have 3D sensing technologies in the phone, you can create a more secure facial recognition than you have when you just use a selfie camera,” Metz said. “When you have a selfie camera, you can basically just print out a photo of the person in front of the camera. When that means someone can access your bank account, that’s not so funny.”

Trinamix has created an algorithm to recognize faces, and it also has hardware in the form of a standard imaging sensor and a near-infrared light projector. The system can be used in a smartphone display, and most vendors already use this hardware in their phones. The company is targeting the solution at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that make smartphones.

Based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Trinamix plans to demo the OLED face authentication at Mobile World Congress Shanghai from February 23 to 25. The company also works on tech for IR spectroscopy.

Trinamix currently has 150 employees.

“We focus on material classification for smartphones,” Metz said. “That means we can tell if it is human skin or something else, like plastic.”

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