Contributing to the latest rumors, the Fast Company published information from anonymous sources which claim that the alleged “IPhone 8” will come with a 3D rear laser, which will help improve both the camera’s autofocus system and its augmented reality features.
According to the source, the new Apple device will have the vertical emission semiconductor lasers (VCSEL) system in its rear camera, which has already been speculated on previously.
VCSEL laser systems calculate the distance that light travels from the laser to the target and back to the sensor, generating a measurement of time of flight (TOF). The system consists of a source (the VCSEL laser), a lens, a detector (sensor) and a processor. The entire system costs about $ 2 per phone.
As analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (of KGI Securities) stated in February, we will probably see this 3D laser system in the front camera and, so the source of the FastCo reports, we will also have the same in the rear camera.
In terms of augmented reality, we have been surprised by ARKit, which currently works through complex algorithms with optical information provided by the iPhone’s iSight camera. If in fact the “iPhone 8” comes with this 3D rear laser, the way in which the depth of the objects around us is measured will be drastically improved and would contribute a lot to AR.
In addition to RA, the sensor would help improve the autofocus, which would become faster and more accurate. For the sake of comparison, from the iPhone 6, the iSight cameras on Apple devices have what was called “Focus Pixels”, which is a phase detection autofocus. To achieve the desired result, this type of autofocus detects and compares two or more sets of incoming light rays received.
In contrast, the new autofocus with laser system would measure the depth by counting the time it would take for a pulse of light to reach the target. Thus, the camera would be able to focus in mere milliseconds. This type of autofocus has already been used in smartphones from Google, Huawei, OnePlus and ASUS.
Apple is expected to use VCSEL lasers from suppliers Lamentum, Finisar and II-VI. The flight time sensor can be obtained from STMicro, Infineon or AMS. And, of course, some other components may be purchased from LG Innotek, STMicro, AMS or Foxconn.
Although initially all these rumors point to the fact that the 3D sensor is in the device to be announced this year, it may be that this technology is not ready for launch on the “iPhone 8”, coming later on the next devices.