November 7, 2018

iPhones may include active 3D sensors for object scanning by 2020


There are a lot of holy grails in 3D tech, and one of them may soon be coming true: active 3D capture sensors in a smartphone, courtesy of Apple.

MacRumors is reporting that “often reliable” Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting that the next generation of iPads will include a dedicated time of flight camera as early as the end of 2019. Kuo has also predicted that this active sensor could make it into iPhones by early 2020. The article quotes Kuo at length, but here’s a quick selection to illustrate his vision:

“We believe that 3D modeling captured by ToF and then edited by an Apple Pencil on an iPad will create an all-new productivity experience for design applications in a totally different manner from computers.”


“The iPhone’s adoption of ToF will create the new AR experience and improve photo quality. We expect that Apple’s ToF design may adopt the higher-than-1,000nm wavelength VCSEL (vs. current Face ID’s 935-945nm) for better system design and user experience.”

Venturebeat speculates that this move will not only improve Apple’s photography, but also allow for gathering full holographic 3D scans of people for chat applications.

For our purposes, the sensor would mean the possibility of active 3D scanning on a smartphone to complement existing photogrammetric workflows. It also means a further commodification of 3D-capture hardware—a topic we’re keeping a close eye on SPAR (I’m sure you’re keeping a close eye on it, too).

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