New iPhone to Feature 'World Facing' 3D Camera [Report]

New iPhone to Feature 'World Facing' 3D Camera [Report]

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At least one next generation iPhone will feature a 3D depth camera on its back, according to a new report from Fast Company.

iPhone engineers have been working on the rear-facing, or “world facing,” 3D camera for at least two years now. It’s been on a short list of possible feature additions for new iPhones, but until this year hasn’t made the cut. In truth, Apple could decide to nix it this year, too. For now, though, it’s in the design, which we’ll hopefully get to see for the first time this fall (if the coronavirus doesn’t get in the way of Apple’s plans).

The camera system combines a laser, sensor, and software. The vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) emits light at a consistent rate and the sensor measures the time it takes for the lightwave to bounce off objects and return back to the phone. This 'time of flight' information is then used to create a depth map which enables new photo and video effects, including better augmented reality experiences.

Apple will likely purchase the laser from Lumentum, the company that currently supplies the laser for its Face ID system.

“When you use AR apps without depth information, it’s a bit glitchy and not as powerful as it ultimately could be,” says Andre Wong, Lumentum’s VP of 3D Sensing. “Now that ARKit and (Google’s) ARCore have both been out for some time now, you’ll see new AR apps coming out that are more accurate in the way they place objects within a space.”

The new 3D camera could also allow users to adjust which parts of an image are in focus after the shot has been taken.

Apple is expected to unveil its next generation iPhones this fall. Please download the iClarified app or follow iClarified on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and RSS for updates.

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New iPhone to Feature 'World Facing' 3D Camera [Report]