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According to some iOS 14 code strings, it would appear that only a pair of upcoming new iPhone models might include a new time-of-flight 3D sensor on the back that will improve photography, augmented reality and power new features like object and environment scanning.
Bloomberg reported this morning that Apple is working on a rear 3D sensor different from the TrueDepth camera that would improve augmented reality features and depth mapping.
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A few days ago, Apple supplier Qualcomm announced a second-generation Spectra image signal processor and a brand new line of high-resolution 3D depth-sensing camera modules that it said were specifically designed for the Android ecosystem.
Tuesday, an image surfaced on leak aggregator SlashLeaks of Apple's alleged 3D-sensing camera destined for iPhone 8, sporting an infrared transmitter and emitter.
According to a new report Monday from the Korea Herald, those 3D sensors said to be coming to iPhone 8 will be capable of scanning a user's face within the millionths of a second.
iPhone 8 is expected to use a laser transmitter and receiver for advanced facial recognition, 3D mapping, augmented reality and other features. A Barrons report, citing analyst Jun Zhang with Rosenblatt Securities, suggests iPhone 8's 3D sensing module is ready for mass production.
The analyst believes that a company called Viavi Solutions will build 150 million optical filter units for Apple in 2018. He said 3D sensing could be used for facial recognition on iPhone 8, potentially supporting simple gesture recognition in the front.
Furthermore, a 3D sensor for the rear camera should improve depth-of-field photography.
As we previously reported, other suppliers of 3D-sensing modules for iPhone 8 are said to include Largan, Lumentum and Finisar. In the analyst's view, the adoption curve could ramp once the cost of 3D-sensing modules lowers to $10 per piece.
Viavi is one of the 3D-sensing market leaders.
iPhone 8 mockup via iDropNews.
Taiwanese vendor Largan Precision, which supplies lenses for the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus, recently confirmed it would start shipping facial recognition 3D sensors in the second half of this year, in time for iPhone 8.
The company is currently in the process of expanding production capacities. They'll be hiring a cool 4,500 workers for its new production facility, or nearly double its current workforce. Apple's OLED-based iPhone 8 is said to use 3D sensors to capture a user's face and iris, even in low-light conditions.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that a next-generation FaceTime camera on iPhone 8 would augment standard RGB sensors with infrared transmitting/receiving modules and include a bespoke 1.4-megapixel sensor capable of detecting changes in light signals.
The next-generation camera would apparently use lasers invisible to the human eye for advanced features such as 3D selfies, accurate depth mapping, 3D modeling and more.
iPhone 8's image sensors should be built by Sony, like before.
Largan CEO Adam Lin said in a press conference this week after the company's annual general meeting, as reported by Nikkei, that they will have lenses for a 3D-sensing module “used in a smartphone ready to ship in the second half this year”.
No phone vendor has officially announced a device with 3D lenses, leaving only iPhone 8 as the most likely phone with 3D lenses that'll be ready to ship in the second half of 2017.
Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting, estimates that Largan will supply 90 percent of rear-camera lenses for 2017 iPhones, around half of the 3D-sensing lenses and up to one-third of the front camera lenses. Foxconn-controlled Genius Electronics Optical and Japan's Kantatsu are said to compete for the rest of the iPhone 8 orders.
Image: iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera system with Largan-made lenses.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that iPhone 8's front-facing camera would take advantage of a new sensor for “revolutionary” features such as augmented reality applications, advanced facial recognition, 3D selfies, 3D object scanning/modeling and more. Tuesday, Barron's noted that Apple may have contracted a company called Himax Technologies to build the rumored sensor for Apple's OLED-based iPhone 8.
Franco-Italian company STMicroelectronics used to be the sole supplier of accelerometers, gyroscopes and motion sensors for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices before Apple started dual-sourcing these microscopic components from both STMicroelectronics and Bosch Sensortec.
According to a report Wednesday by French blog iGeneration, the Cupertino company has tapped STMicroelectronics as a supplier for iPhone 8's 3D camera sensor that should support exciting capabilities such as 3D sensing and mapping, 3D selfies, augmented reality features, advanced facial recognition and more.
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.