The 2017 iPhone X may only be a couple of weeks old but that does not mean that Apple is not already hard at work getting all of its duck in a row ahead of future releases.
We already know that Apple gets plans in place for iPhones at least two years away from being released, and that is exactly what Bloomberg is now reporting. According to the outlet, Apple is developing a new 3D sensor that will adorn the rear of the 2019 iPhone, allowing it to improve augmented reality app experiences.
As the story goes, Apple’s new system would work by firing lasers at objects and then measuring the amount of time it takes for the reflection to be bounced back. This would allow the iPhone to accurately calculate depth, something useful for augmented reality. A similar thing can be done using two cameras as the iPhone already does, with the TrueDepth camera around the front also using infrared to accomplish a similar task. However, Apple’s use of lasers should allow for more accurate measurements.
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 said to be working with suppliers to get things in place for the new 3D-sensing system, however it is still unclear whether that 2019 launch window is one that will be attainable. The report does confirm that the existing TrueDepth camera will be retained around the front of the newer iPhones, with this technology purely designed for use alongside the rear-facing camera setup.
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