Report: Apple Developing 3D Sensor for Rear of 2019 iPhone

Apple’s True Depth camera system found in the notch on the iPhone X could be headed to the back of the device. According to a report out of Bloomberg, Apple is working on a “3D sensor” for the 2019 iPhone that would allow the camera on the back to sense depth much like the True Depth array does now. This feature would likely be used to detect spatial awareness for use with augmented reality.

The way this 3D sensor would work on the iPhone, admittedly, is a bit different than what happens with True Depth for things like Face ID and Animojis. Rather firing off 30,000 laser dots onto objects to collect data, the sensor will instead use various lasers which will fire off and reach endpoints. It’s the time it takes for these lasers to reach their endpoints is what will be collected to reconstruct the scene in front of you and build a map to place virtual objects on and around.

“AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.”


With this feature, Apple would have 3D sensing on both the front and back of the 2019 iPhone which is likely a desire of theirs if CEO Tim Cook’s vision of AR wants to take off. “AR is going to change the way we use technology forever,” he said in a recent interview with Good Morning America. We’ve already seen some of Apple’s efforts in the AR market with the introduction of ARKit in iOS 11 which allows existing iPhones to place augmented reality objects around scenes without the need for added hardware, and it works quite well. Therefore, adding more depth-sensing technologies to future iPhones will not only improve things but provide more accuracy for things like a measuring tape that remain a bit unreliable at the moment.

Bloomberg notes suppliers such as Infineon Technologies AG, Sony, STMicroelectronics NV, and Panasonic could be selected to produce this 3D sensor, although it’s worth noting it’s very early in this technology’s lifespan so it’s unclear who may ultimately wind up making it for Apple. The report also notes the feature could be omitted from the 2019 iPhone altogether so there’s no confirmation this sensor is even coming. For now, we’ll need to sit tight and see what happens. After all, we still have to get through the 2018 iPhones beforehand.