Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 will feature an advanced rear-facing camera system, which according to a report published earlier this week by Fast Company, could potentially boast an embedded 3D laser module to enable better depth detection for Augmented Reality (AR) applications. This rear-facing laser, known as a Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL), will in theory enable the high-end iPhone 8 to carry out “faster and more accurate depth measurements,” as well as much quicker autofocusing when capturing photographs.
“VCSEL laser systems calculate the distance the light travels from the laser to the target and back to the sensor, and generate a Time of Flight (TOF) measurement,” the source indicated, while adding that “The system consists of a source (the VCSEL laser), a lens, detector (sensor), and a processor.”
While Fast Company’s sources indicated that the rear-facing VCSEL is “probably intended” for the upcoming iPhone 8, which could also be called the iPhone Edition or iPhone X, its inclusion is ultimately contingent upon Apple’s progress in resolving all those issues currently plaguing production of the device. So while it’s more than likely going to make its way onto the high-end handset, the fate of this super-advanced VCSEL has ultimately fallen into the lap of Apple’s engineering team.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard about the VCSEL, and specifically that it would debut as a feature on the iPhone 8. Just weeks ago, a report from LoupVentures cited two firms — Finisar and Lumentum — as component suppliers who would be providing Apple with VCSELs for its revolutionary front-facing 3D camera system. According to KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 8’s front-facing camera will boast advanced facial recognition capabilities, which could potentially take the place of Touch ID in light of Apple’s struggle implementing the fingerprint scanner underneath the iPhone 8’s ultra thin-bezeled, edge-to-edge OLED display.
On the bright side: Fast Company noted that the rear-facing VCSEL will cost Cupertino just $2 per iPhone (not including the additional, front-facing VCSEL) — and so all we can really do is hope that Apple’s engineering team is able to figure everything out in time for the handset’s anticipated September debut.