Last week it was reported that Apple might be replacing the Touch ID fingerprint reader with 3D facial recognition on the top-of-the-line model of the upcoming iPhone 8 series. Now these rumors have become more substantiated by another report by Apple analyst KGI Ming-Chi Kuo which has been published today and obtained by 9to5Mac.
According to the report, the upcoming iPhone top model, which is also expected to feature an OLED display, will come with a technology that combines 2D images captured by the front camera with depth data from an infrared module to record 3D information. The application for this new front camera technology could include facial recognition, iris recognition, and 3D selfies. It could also be used in innovative games that allow for replacing a 3D-avatar's head with the head of the phone's user or for augmented reality purposes.
If the report is correct, the infrared transmitter will use vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser technology from a company called Lumentum and the IR receiver will be manufactured by Foxconn/Sharp. The front camera will be supplied by Sony. The hardware will be controlled by algorithms developed by PrimeSense, a company that Apple acquired in 2013. The system works by emitting invisible IR light and then detecting the signals that are reflected by objects in the proximity using a 1.4 megapixel IR receiver. The resulting system will have much more advanced depth-sensing capabilities than the existing iPhone 7 Plus dual rear camera that uses the optical parallax offset of its two lenses to determine the distance to objects in the scene.
As usual, there is no guarantee the rumored feature will actually materialize in the final product. That said, it certainly looks as if Apple is preparing something special for its 2017 iPhone generation. Unfortunately, another rumor is saying the flagship model might set you back upwards of $1000.
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