Ap­ple tar­gets rear-fac­ing 3-D sen­sor for 2019 iPhone


Ap­ple is work­ing on a rear-fac­ing 3-D sen­sor sys­tem for the iPhone in 2019, another step to­ward turn­ing the hand­set into a lead­ing aug­mented-re­al­ity de­vice, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the plan.

Ap­ple is eval­u­at­ing a dif­fer­ent tech­nol­ogy from the one it cur­rently uses in the TrueDepth sen­sor sys­tem on the front of the iPhone X, the peo­ple said. The ex­ist­ing sys­tem re­lies on a struc­tured-light tech­nique that projects a pat­tern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user’s face and mea­sures the dis­tor­tion to gen­er­ate an ac­cu­rate 3-D im­age for au­then­ti­ca­tion. The planned rear-fac­ing sen­sor would in­stead use a time-of-flight ap­proach that cal­cu­lates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off sur­round­ing ob­jects to cre­ate a three-di­men­sional pic­ture of the en­vi­ron­ment.

The com­pany is ex­pected to keep the TrueDepth sys­tem, so fu­ture iPhones will have both front and rear-fac­ing 3-D sens­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Ap­ple has started dis­cus­sions with prospec­tive sup­pli­ers of the new sys­tem, the peo­ple said. Com­pa­nies man­u­fac­tur­ing time-of-flight sen­sors in­clude In­fi­neon Tech­nolo­gies AG, Sony Corp, STMi­cro­elec­tron­ics NV and Pana­sonic. The test­ing of the tech­nol­ogy is still in early stages and it could end up not be­ing used in the fi­nal ver­sion of the phone, the peo­ple said.

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