Sony Corp. is boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors after Apple and other companies showed interest in using the product in their future phone models. If media reports are to be believed, the software chips will power the front- and rear-facing 3D cameras of several smartphones in 2019, including the Apple iPhones.
“Cameras revolutionized phones, and based on what I’ve seen, I have the same expectation for 3D,” says Satoshi Yoshihara, one of the managers who lead Sony’s work on sensors. “The pace will vary by field, but we’re definitely going to see the adoption of 3D. I’m certain of it.”
The approach used by Sony’s new sensors is referred to as “time of flight” (ToF) method. A ToF camera system resolves distance based on the known speed of light, measuring the time-of-flight of a light signal (here, a laser) between the camera and the subject for each point of the image. It can work for distances up to five meters.
This would help upcoming phone models feature better depth effects for photos, alongside some 3D modeling options that would be useful for augmented reality apps. With this technology, the Tokyo-based camera maker also aims to include faster facial recognition that can “probably identify anyone in photographs from a reasonable distance,” Yoshihara said.
Demand for Sony’s technology is untested, but it certainly sounds promising – as well as suggesting that the 2019 iPhone models will offer a greater 3D technology than ever before.