Apple is looking to include a 3D depth sensing sensor system on the rear camera of the 2019 iPhone. The company is currently developing this 3D sensor system, with the technology being hugely different from the system it has used on the iPhone X for Face ID.
Given how complex and difficult it was for Apple’s suppliers to manufacture the Face ID module for the iPhone X, it is not surprising to see the Cupertino company work on a different technology for 3D depth sensing on the rear camera of future iPhones.
The inclusion of a 3D depth sensing system will help convert the iPhone into a proper AR device and open the world to a whole new world of powerful AR apps and games. For the front camera module, Apple plans to continue using its existing technology.
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.
Apple is also in talks with potential suppliers of the new 3D tech that it is working on. This includes companies like Sony, STMicroelectronics, Panasonic, and Infineon Technologies.
Apple is already betting heavily on Augmented Reality as being the next big thing. With ARKit in iOS 11, the company provided millions of iPhone owners across the world with their first taste of Augmented Reality. However, despite the hype surrounding it, ARKit-powered iOS apps have failed to take off. This is due to the rear camera on the existing iPhones being unable to measure depth and dimensions of an object which is required for ARKit to work properly. Thus, the inclusion of a 3D depth sensing sensor on future iPhones makes a lot of sense. It would also allow Apple to bring some new features like Animoji to the table.