Apple is working on a new rear-mounted “3D sensor” for its 2019 iPhone, helping further the company’s augmented reality ambitions.
The new camera system would use a “time-of-flight” approach, which calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects. In doing so, it can create a three-dimensional picture of the environment.
TrueDepth on the front-facing camera, by contrast, relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 infrared dots onto a user’s face and measures the distortion to generate a 3D image for authentication.
It appears Apple has already started talks with several companies that could build the new rear-facing 3D camera sensor, including Infineon Technologies, Sony, Panasonic, and STMicroelectronics NV.
Apple’s expected to keep the TrueDepth system, allowing future iPhones to have both front and rear-facing 3D sensing capabilities. The report warns 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.”
AR has become a priority for Apple and CEO Tim Cook himself suggested that he aims the Cupertino-based giant to lead this industry with technology that would be completely new when it’s launched.