Next time you’re identified by your eyeball when you are entering a building, passing through an airport gate or logging into your smartphone enabled with biometric sensors, it’s highly likely that Smart Sensors – who’ve recently been acquired by multinational US-based FotoNation – developed the technology behind it.

Smart Sensors is based at the technology business incubator the University of Bath Innovation Centre (UBIC) and has seen over 20 years of research and product development finally come to fruition as biometric recognition becomes mainstream.

Smart Sensor technology: Check out this video for more information
on Smart Sensor’s
 iris recognition technology


The Smart Sensor team, with help from researchers at the University of Bath, has been at the forefront of solving industry challenges like identifying the ‘payer as present’ in mobile payment transactions.

FotoNation, meanwhile, is one of the leading companies providing biometric recognition in the mobile phone industry and is already well known for innovations in smartphone camera functionality like portrait enhancement, smile and blink detection and delivering SLR quality to a smartphone camera.

“It’s great to team up with a company that is at the forefront of customer engagement”


At the monthly ‘First Tuesday’ event at UBIC, Martin George – founder of Smart Sensors, shared the rationale behind this strategic decision, the highs and lows of the acquisition journey and spoke about the opportunities and challenges this move brings for the business and the enlarged team.

Making R&D marketable

Martin explained: “Doing R&D and developing intellectual property is great but you only get value once you start exploiting it and getting it out in the market.

“As a tech development company one of our frustrations is that we are quite a way down the value chain, so it’s great to team up with a company that is at the forefront of customer engagement.”

“We’re very optimistic about the future and we’re off to a great start”


Also at the presentation was Chuck White from the parent acquisition company Tessera Technologies. He expressed enthusiasm about the deal, commenting that: “A VC will only look at an opportunity in the context of the return they will get.”

“However, as an acquiring company we looked at whether this company and the assets will make our company better and we’re very optimistic about the future – we are off to a great start!”

Find out more about FotoNation’s and Smart Sensors’ biometric technology on the FotoNation website. You can also keep put to date with Smart Sensor’s progress via their Twitter page at: @SmartSensorsLtd.

Alice Whale