Kuo: Apple unlikely to integrate rear-facing 3D sensor in 2019 iPhone

Kuo: Apple unlikely to integrate rear-facing 3D sensor in 2019 iPhone

September 12, 2018 0 By admin


Contrary to industry expectations, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the company is not planning to integrate a rear-side time of flight (TOF) solution in its 2019 iPhone lineup, as the technology is not yet ready for the augmented reality revolution.

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Kuo says industry analysts expect Apple to incorporate rear-side TOF as it looks to develop next-generation augmented reality experiences. For example, Apple is thought to be developing an AR version of Apple Maps, potentially for use with a rumored AR headset.

According to Kuo, the distance and depth information provided by existing rear-side TOF is insufficient for creating the “revolutionary AR experience” that Apple is presumably working toward.

The analyst believes a comprehensive AR ecosystem is one that integrates 5G connectivity, AR glass (presumably a wearable, head-mounted device) and a “more powerful Apple Maps database” that includes appropriate distance and depth information. It appears Kuo, like others, assumes Apple Maps to be one of Apple’s “killer apps” for next-gen AR.

Additionally, ToF tech does not provide an improved photo taking experience, a major consideration for a company that touts its handsets as the best portable cameras in the world.

As such, Kuo says Apple will likely forego rear-side ToF in 2019, instead relying on its dual-camera system first introduced with iPhone 7 Plus in 2016.

“We believe that iPhone’s dual-camera can simulate and offer enough distance/depth information necessary for photo-taking; it is therefore unnecessary for the 2H19 new iPhone models to be equipped with a rear-side ToF,” Kuo says.

Rumors of a rear-facing TrueDepth camera date back to last July, when reports claimed Apple planned to debut a rear-facing VCSEL system for AR applications and faster autofocus. That solution was due to arrive with what would become iPhone X, but Apple’s flagship smartphone debuted with a single VCSEL module in its front-facing TrueDepth camera array.

Unlike TrueDepth, which measures distortion in structured light, a TOF system measures the time it takes pulses of light to travel to and from a target. Such systems allow for extremely accurate depth mapping and can therefore assist in AR applications. </span>

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