Apple looks at new 3-D sensor
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 (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 on to 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, Sony, STMicroelectronics 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.
They asked not to be identified discussing unreleased features. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.
The addition of a rear-facing sensor would enable more augmented-reality applications in the iPhone. Apple chief executive Tim Cook considers AR potentially as revolutionary as the smartphone itself.
He’s talked up the technology on Good Morning America.