It seems that 3D will be making a big splash on the iPhone 8 in more ways than one. It has already been speculated, by no less than famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo himself, that the 10th anniversary iPhone would have a 3D sensor on the front for advanced facial recognition. Now there is word coming from certain sources that the back camera will also have a 3D laser sensor that will be used not just for autofocus but also for augmented reality. As if Apple didn’t have too much on its plate already.
It is no longer a secret that Apple has big AR ambitions. After all, ARKit is already available to developers. That implementation, however, is crude and relies on hardware that hasn’t exactly been made with AR in mind. In particular, it uses tricks to implement depth detection, something that can be done more properly using 3D lasers sensors.
The iPhone 8 is already believed to have such a sensor, but one that’s located on the front of the device. That sensor will supposedly be used for better and more secure facial recognition in lieu of a missing Touch ID. These sources now claim that Apple has plans to put that technology on the back of an iPhone, if not the iPhone 8 then a 2018 model.
That sensor will serve double duty. One is to assist in autofocus, just like the seemingly dwindling number of smartphones that make use of that technology. The more interesting application is in augmented reality, which would give ARKit a better view of how near or far an object really is. This sensor will supposedly make use of a particular implementation of laser technology called VCSEL or Vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser. VCSEL uses the time it takes for laser light to bounce back to the sensor to determine the distance or depth of the object.
Whether this sensor ends up in the iPhone 8 depends on whether Apple’s engineers will be able to integrate it in time for the smartphone’s launch. And it’s not like they have a lot of time left. There is reportedly a sense of panic at Cupertino already over the software, not the hardware, that still isn’t ready from prime time. The last thing they probably need is yet another new hardware to integrate.
SOURCE: Fast Company