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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.

iphone-augmented-reality.jpg
Apple has reportedly asked its supply chain partner to supply VCSEL components for use in rear ToF camera lens in its mobile devices to be released in 2020, according to supply chain sources.
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
 
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kiranmk2

macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2008
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VCSELs, or vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, are a key component of Apple's TrueDepth camera

Apple's front-facing TrueDepth camera uses 3D technology but because it's infrared and not laser-powered

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...
 

stanman64

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Jul 9, 2010
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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!
 
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ksec

macrumors 68000
Dec 23, 2015
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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.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,365
432
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.
 

Shirasaki

macrumors G5
May 16, 2015
12,418
6,421
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.
 
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alpi123

macrumors 68000
Jun 18, 2014
1,723
2,286
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!
Huawei uses it to improve Portrait mode.
[doublepost=1563365486][/doublepost]
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.
To be completely honest, the phone in the picture does have a very wide notch :rolleyes:
 

yanksfan114

macrumors 6502
Jul 30, 2011
345
950



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.

iphone-augmented-reality.jpg
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
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.
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,324
14,501
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.
 

dilbert99

macrumors 68020
Jul 23, 2012
2,185
1,812
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.
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....
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,324
14,501
San Francisco
If Apple is buying ToF from Sony or others, then I am assuming Apple doesn't have the patents? So how are they ahead?

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.
 
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Lalatoon

macrumors 6502
Jul 8, 2019
301
243
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 :)
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
8,324
14,501
San Francisco
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 :)

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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