Rumor: Apple working with LG on dual cameras for iPhone with 3D photography features

iPhone 7 plus back large camera

A future iPhone could enhance the iPhone 7 Plus’s depth-of-field Portrait photography mode with all-new “3D photographing” features, according to a new report Thursday from The Korea Economic Daily. The outlet is reporting that the Cupertino firm has teamed up with LG Innotek on a next-generation dual-camera module with 3D photography features, likely to be used in select 2017 iPhone models.

Here’s what sources told the publication:

Apple is now studying how to apply its 3D camera technology into LG Innotek’s smartphone camera. Since LG Innotek also has its own 3D camera and related technologies, such joint efforts will likely to bear fruit sometime within next year.

The report stops short of detailing possible 3D photography enhancements that the new dual-camera system may provide so we can only speculate at this point. Of note, LG Innotek is the exclusive supplier of the iPhone 7 Plus’s dual-lens camera system.

LG already used its 3D camera technology in the 2011 Optimus 3D handset and Apple owns advanced 3D camera technology via its $20 million April 2015 purchase of Israeli firm LinX Imaging. It is widely believed that LinX technology is powering the smarts of the iPhone 7 Plus’s camera.

LinX has solved most of the problems associated with combining multiple images captured from different points in space, such as registration errors and occlusion related artifacts, and Apple probably used those innovations in the underlying software algorithms powering Portrait shooting mode on the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 7 Plus, Apple’s first iPhone ever with two cameras out the back, uses its dual-lens camera module to create a depth-of-field effect, also known as bokeh, that keeps faces sharp while creating a beautifully blurred background.

Taking advantage of advanced machine learning, Apple’s custom image signal processor and the sheer power of its in-house designed A10 Fusion chip, the system simultaneously takes an image with both cameras to create a 3D map of the scene that helps determine the amount of DSLR-like blur for each individual pixel.

Source: The Korea Economic Daily