Apple said to target rear-facing3Dsensor for 2019 iPhone
San Francisco, US - Apple Inc is working on a rear-facing 3D sensor system for the iPhone in 2019, another step toward turning the handset into a leading augmented reality (AR) 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 3D 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 3D 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 Corp. 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. They asked not to be identified discussing unreleased features. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
The addition of a rear-facing sensor would enable more AR applications in the iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook considers AR potentially as revolutionary as the smartphone itself. He’s talked up the technology on Good Morning America and gives it as almost much attention during earnings calls as sales growth. “We’re already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn,” he said in the most recent call. “AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.”
Apple added a software tool called ARKit this year that made it easier for developers to make apps for the iPhone using AR.