Apple Readies 3D Sensing Rear Camera Component Supplies for 2020 iPhones

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has asked one of its manufacturing partners to ready components for use in rear Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera lenses said to be coming to next year's iPhone lineup, according to DigiTimes.

    Multiple sources have claimed that Apple's 2020 iPhones will include a laser-powered time-of-flight 3D rear camera that will result in significant improvements to AR experiences, including Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

    VCSELs, or vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, are a key component of Apple's TrueDepth camera in the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, and power several flagship features like Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. However, a ToF camera system is a major step up from TrueDepth due to its more advanced use of laser.

    TrueDepth relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion to generate an accurate 3D image for authentication. By contrast, ToF calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a 3D image of the environment. This allows for more accurate depth perception and better placement of virtual objects, and should also result in photos better able to capture depth.

    Bloomberg says that the rear camera in Apple's 2020 iPhones will be able to scan areas up to 15 feet from the device. Apple's front-facing TrueDepth camera uses 3D technology but its structured-light system only works at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters.

    Apple is said to have gained a two-year lead over its rivals in the smartphone industry in the area of 3D sensing technology, having secured the necessary hardware way in advance of competitors. Sony could be the ToF supplier that DigiTimes is referring to in the paywalled article, as Apple has reportedly been in talks with Sony over ToF sensor tests. Although in December 2017, Apple said it planned to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which currently supplies the components for VCSELs.

    At the time, Apple said its Finisar investment would enable the supplier to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs. Apple initially sourced VCSELs for 2017's iPhone X chiefly from California-based Lumentum, but it was bottlenecks in production there that helped spur the $390 million deal with Finisar.

    Lumentum subsequently ramped up additional manufacturing capacity for VCSELs and edge-emitting lasers in the first half of fiscal 2019. Another producer, Austria-based Ams, also makes VCSEL chips, and in March 2018 said it had won a large deal with an unnamed smartphone maker, so there are a few potential suppliers that Apple could be leaning on.

    There were originally some rumors suggesting Apple would introduce a rear 3D camera system in its 2019 iPhones, but Kuo said that wouldn't happen because Apple needs 5G connectivity, augmented reality glasses, and a more powerful Apple Maps database to truly take advantage of the AR capabilities afforded by a ToF camera.

    Bloomberg has since confirmed that Apple was aiming to put the 3D rear camera system in this year's iPhones, but ultimately had to delay its plans. Whether that decision is related to rumors that Apple has had to temporarily stop developing AR/VR headsets remains unclear.

    Article Link: Apple Readies 3D Sensing Rear Camera Component Supplies for 2020 iPhones
  2. plexdk macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2007
    Maybe they will use the iPhone as a test bed for the glasses' 3d sensor? When ToF software/hardware has been successfully implemented, they can move on to the glasses.. seems logical
  3. Pelea macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2014
  4. ROGmaster Suspended

    Apr 12, 2018
    They are adding a ToF 3D Sensor like the one on the S10+ 5G and the upcoming Note 10.
  5. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2008
    This has been in two articles now and doesn't make sense. The truedepth camera is a laser (a VCSEL) then the second quote suggests it's not a laser...
  6. stanman64 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 9, 2010
    I wish I had the imagination to think of all the ways this will be able to be used, but I’m sure it’ll be a lot. Of course AR, and maybe hyper-accurate 3D object scanning letting you scan an object you own into a game or to be kept forever to view in 3D. Who knows. Exciting!
  7. Gutwrench Contributor


    Jan 2, 2011

    Wait, there’s one more thing.

    3D Emojis/Animoji’s!
  8. Antonis_Sp macrumors newbie


    Jan 28, 2017
  9. uniquexoxo, Jul 17, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019

    uniquexoxo macrumors regular


    Aug 27, 2018
    South East Asia
    Keep these upgrades coming. I’m so ready to upgrade in 2020 from my 8 Plus lol. The iPhone render on the article is not too bad actually
  10. ksec macrumors 6502a

    Dec 23, 2015
    So that is 2019 Triple Lens on Flagship, Dual Lens on R, ( Are they going to make iPhone Touch ID with Single Lens ? )

    And then in 2020, Quad Lens ( If you count the VCSEL as Lens ) on Flagship, Last years's Triple Lens on R, and Double Lens on iPhone?

    That sort of make sense why Apple is making it a massive square at the back of 2019 iPhone, it is a layout with 2020 model in mind.
  11. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I volunteer to be the downer here:
    This is another feature that has nothing to do with the main purpose of the iPhone (phone, simple camera and internet/email).
    Nevertheless this will drive up the prices and make the phones more complex than they need to be.
    I hope there will be a strong backlash on prices and Apple will be forced to release a more basic line of iPhones and then a high priced line of phones for people who want to do all the fancy AR, VR, Gaming, high end video things.
  12. Shirasaki macrumors G3


    May 16, 2015
    I bet there gonna be people envying that mock iPhone in the image, truly bezelless and no notch. I would love to see its usability and production quality if that becomes a thing.
    Speaking of the main topic, another possibility for this tech is to further push Face ID to the same level as second gen home button Touch ID. As of now, failing rate is still higher than Touch ID for quite a few people.
  13. sinsin07 macrumors 68040

    Mar 28, 2009
    I volunteer to provide you with a reality check:
    Thanks for defining what the main purpose of the "iPhone" is for the whole world.:rolleyes:
  14. alpi123 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 18, 2014
    Huawei uses it to improve Portrait mode.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 17, 2019 ---
    To be completely honest, the phone in the picture does have a very wide notch :rolleyes:
  15. rpat701 macrumors regular

    May 25, 2016
    There's absolutely no reason to upgrade from my XR in the next 1-2 years.
  16. yanksfan114 macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2011
    Haha that mockup was definitely created before the iPhone X launched. I remember everyone thinking of how they’ll replace the home button via the software and most people thought it’d be just a big white button with two extra options on each side.
  17. iZac macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2003
    ...Yet another reason to skip the 2019 round.
  18. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    This is very significant news. And expected. It speaks to Apple's huge push into AR.

    It also aligns with Tim Cook introducing the iPhone X a couple years ago where he said (paraphrased) that the X is a demonstrator/testbed of sorts for the technologies needed to push Apple into AR. With the front facing camera used for FaceID (and software) being instrumental and key towards that push. As an aside, its why FaceID will not be going away.

    The level of innovation to now bring backside 3D time-of-flight camera sensing technology in miniaturized form to a consumer device is nothing short of astounding.
  19. dilbert99 macrumors 68020

    Jul 23, 2012
    If Apple is buying ToF from Sony or others, then I am assuming Apple doesn't have the patents? So how are they ahead?
  20. Mansu944 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2012
    So don’t buy a phone to replace my X this year. Got it.
  21. dilbert99 macrumors 68020

    Jul 23, 2012
    Then it is a n camera lens on the 2030 Xa, a n-1 lens camera on the Xb and an n-2 lens camera on the Xc....
  22. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    Since not much is known about Apple's level of collaboration and investment with their manufacturing partners, I'd say that assumption is not safe, or if true (not likely), not necessarily relevant.
  23. LordVic macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2011
    i don't have much to say on the 3d sensing tech.

    But that phone mockup looks great.
  24. Lalatoon macrumors member

    Jul 8, 2019
    The technology or the idea sounds very interesting.

    I get the idea about phones having all this camera for a quick way to get pictures. But these pictures are not meant to be professional products just for personal use, for social media. Do you (I dont have social media account) really need those multiples cameras and sensors for social media pictures? With all this new cameras and sensors are phones trying to replace DSLR and video cam?

    Well, if this new features allows us to scan an object and create a 3D model and load it into CAD, then that will be revolutionary but if its real world application is only for taking pictures, I dont know what to say :)
  25. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    Though there may be uses for making pictures that end up in social media, that is not driving Apple's huge push into AR.

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69 July 17, 2019