Apple working on rear-facing 3D time-of-flight sensor for 2019 iPhone

“Apple Inc. is working on a rear-facing 3-D sensor system for the iPhone in 2019, another step toward turning the handset into a leading augmented-reality device, according to people familiar with the plan,” Alex Webb and Yuji Nakamura report for Bloomberg.

“Apple is evaluating a different technology from the one it currently uses in the TrueDepth sensor system on the front of the iPhone X, the people said. The existing system 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 3-D image for authentication,” Webb and Nakamura report. “The planned rear-facing sensor would instead use a time-of-flight approach that calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a three-dimensional picture of the environment.”

“The company is expected to keep the TrueDepth system, so future iPhones will have both front and rear-facing 3-D sensing capabilities,” Webb and Nakamura report. “Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook considers AR potentially as revolutionary as the smartphone itself… ‘We’re already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn,’ he said in the most recent [earnings] call. ‘AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ooh, the rumor mill is skipping ahead two generations! Let’s go!

Augmented Reality is going to change everything.MacDailyNews, July 21, 2017

The impact of augmented reality cannot be overstated. It will be a paradigm shift larger than the iPhone and the half-assed clones it begat. — MacDailyNews, August 4, 2017

Apple working on augmented reality headset running ‘rOS’ to ship as early as 2020 – November 8, 2017
Apple’s next big move: Augmented reality – August 3, 2017
Augmented Reality: Apple’s revolutionary offering leaves Google’s Android woefully behind – June 26, 2017
Apple’s AR is much closer to reality than Google’s – June 26, 2017
Overnight, Apple will own the world’s largest augmented reality platform – June 7, 2017
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple will have a 3-5 year lead in augmented reality; use as part of an autonomous driving system – November 2, 2016
Tim Cook publicly confirms Apple has augmented reality plans – July 27, 2016
Apple acquires Flyby Media; assembles large team of virtual and augmented reality experts – January 29, 2016
Apple hires leading virtual reality researcher – January 22, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘We are high on Augmented Reality for the long run’ – October 14, 2016
Apple is building a virtual reality supply chain with disruptive potential, new research shows – November 19, 2015
Analyst: Apple team exploring virtual reality/augmented reality – August 31, 2015
Apple exploring a new reality with purchase of Metaio – June 3, 2015
Apple patents perforated augmented reality display that you can see and hear through – May 29, 2015
Apple acquires augmented reality company Metaio – May 28, 2015


  1. The police will be able to scan your face and have a complete dossier pop up on you. Nice. That will save Major Strasser a lot of trouble. But don’t worry, they won’t broadcast it.

  2. Has anyone thought of using the forward facing TrueDepth sensor as a handheld, non-contact method for mapping smallish objects? 30,000 points at a time is not bad. Take several shots from different angles and you can generate a decent 3-D model. In the future, you might be able to shop for a replacement car part that actually fits when you bring it home!

  3. Time of flight. That is amazing. Consider that light travels about one foot per nanosecond they will have to use a really fast and precise clock. Probably 100 GHz or more. In your pocket computer. Awesome

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