iPhone 3D Sensors
Citing sources from Apple and its suppliers’ reports, Apple plans the introduction of a rear-facing 3D sensor system on the iPhone for the year 2019. This would make the device even more of an augmented reality device. Currently, Apple is reportedly testing which technologies can be used and has a system in mind that works differently than the TrueDepth sensor on the iPhone X.
While the sensor system called TrueDepth on the iPhone X is based on the evaluation of distortions in a pattern of 30,000 infrared laser measurement points, the concept for the rear-facing 3D sensor system expected for the next iPhone is to be followed by a different concept. Apparently, Apple wants to rely on the “time-of-flight” concept (TOF), that is, a runtime method in which it is measured how much time the laser light to the object and back needs.
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Although current systems of this type offer only relatively low resolutions of approximately 200 × 200 pixels, they have the advantage that very high refresh rates are possible in order to be able to measure distances with high frequency and thus also be able to record objects.So far, the technology is mainly used in the fields of automotive engineering, gaming, measurement technology, robotics, and medicine. With such a system, future iPhones could capture objects in close proximity but also at a distance of several meters – up to 40 meters are possible with current TOF laser measurement systems.
Still, the project is at Apple in its infancy, so that is by no means sure, whether it really is expected in 2019 on a new iPhone. Apple might even toss off this concept. Apple could, of course, complement its ARKit platform for augmented reality applications with a TOF sensor in the iPhone and overcome some of the remaining vulnerabilities.
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A sensor for detecting objects and the environment on the back of a smartphone is nothing new, at least in the Android world. For example, Lenovo and ASUS both offer the Phab 2 Pro and ZenFone AR models equipped with Google’s “Project Tango” to realize AR applications. Source