Apple reported to be working on laser-powered, 3D-sensing rear camera

Doris Richards
November 15, 2017

We recently heard tell of Apple's 2018 iPhone plans, and there's now a new Bloomberg report which is taking an even further leap into the future into its 2019 ambitions.

This would be an entirely new technology that's completely different from the TrueDepth camera system that's now on the front notch of the iPhone X. The TrueDepth sensor system uses 30,000 infrared laser dots to map out a user's face to accurately generate a 3D image. It calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a three-dimensional picture of the environment. Talking about the technology behind the existing system, the TrueDepth sensor basically depends on a structured-light technique. The dual cameras are able to detect the subject and blur the background.

Apple is working to integrate rear-facing, laser-based 3D sensors into the 2019 iPhone models.


The objective of the laser-based 3D sensors is for what CEO Tim Cook believes would play a huge part in the future of Apple: augmented reality. Some firms that manufacture time-of-flight sensors include Infineon Technologies AG, Sony, STMicroelectronics NV and Panasonic. According to the report, the 3D sensor will employ lasers to improve the company's augmented reality apps and services through a "time-of-flight" approach. It's not that great at depth perception and can't deal with vertical plans such as walls, windows, and doors. With this planned 3D sensor, Apple could solve those issues. Current AR apps for the iOS can place virtual objects in space relative to flat surfaces, but they could not, for example, place the virtual objects behind a real-world item.

Sources say testing of the new image sensor is still in the early stages and there's a chance it won't end up in the 2019 iPhone.

The next generation of Apple Inc.'s iPhone will have lasers - literally, at least according to a newly published report.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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