Following the successful launch of its high-end and TrueDepth camera-equipped iPhone X, Apple has reportedly shifted its focus towards developing a next-generation 3D depth-sensing camera technology.
According to people familiar with the company’s plans who were cited in a Bloomberg report on Tuesday, not only will Apple’s new 3D camera tech be more advanced than the TrueDepth camera on iPhone X, but it will bring a wide range of Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities exclusively to the rear-facing camera system on all of its iPhone models due out in 2019.
“Apple is evaluating a different technology from the one it currently uses in the TrueDepth sensor system on the front of the iPhone X,” sources say, while going on to describe how Apple’s existing TrueDepth 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.” Whereas the next-generation 3D laser technology that Apple is planning for the rear-facing camera of future iPhone models will instead rely on a “time-of-flight approach,” which is designed to “calculate the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a three-dimensional picture of the environment.”
Sources went on to confirm that Apple will retain its current, Face ID-assisted TrueDepth camera on the front-side of its future iPhone models — at least for the foreseeable future, according to KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously noted how the iPhone-maker’s inherent technology is years ahead of its closest competition. And so this new and highly-advanced 3D laser system, which will reportedly be the “next step forward” in regards to turning iPhone into a leading AR device, will be implemented into the handset’s rear-facing camera module so as to bring these capabilities to both sides of iPhone for the first time.
What’s interesting about this report is that it would appear Apple is rushing right along with its plans, thinking way ahead into the future and, perhaps, not considering the many challenges it faced when producing its 3D camera sensors. Indeed, multiple reports have converged around the fact that Apple has had trouble manufacturing TrueDepth components from the get-go, mainly due to the precision accuracy required in their fabrication, which has resulted in much lower-than-expected yield rates.
Fortunately, sources say, while this new “time-of-flight” 3D camera technology is much more advanced than Apple’s current TrueDepth tech, it reportedly does not require the same level of precision in its procurement, which means that yield rates are likely to be much higher in comparison.
Of course, as with all rumors pertaining to Apple, we highly recommend taking this one with a grain of salt, too, especially since even Bloomberg’s sources admit the company could ultimately scrap its plans at any time.