“Sony Corp., the biggest maker of camera chips used in smartphones, is boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors after getting interest from customers including Apple Inc.,” Yuji Nakamura and Yuki Furukawa report for Bloomberg. “The chips will power front- and rear-facing 3D cameras of models from several smartphone makers in 2019, with Sony kicking off mass production in late summer to meet demand, according to Satoshi Yoshihara, head of Sony’s sensor division.”
“‘Cameras revolutionized phones, and based on what I’ve seen, I have the same expectation for 3D,’ said Yoshihara, who has worked for more than a decade on wider industry adoption of cameras in smartphones,” Nakamura and Furukawa report. “Sony isn’t the only maker of 3D chips, with rivals Lumentum Holdings Inc. and STMicroelectronics NV already finding uses for them, such as unlocking phones through facial recognition or measuring depth to improve focus when taking pictures at night.”
“Yoshihara said Sony’s technology differs from the ‘structured light’ approach of existing chips which have limits in terms of accuracy and distance. Sony uses a method called ‘time of flight’ that sends out invisible laser pulses and measures how long they take to bounce back, which he said creates more detailed 3D models and works at distances of five meters,” Nakamura and Furukawa report. “Yoshihara also said there will only be a need for two 3D chips on devices, for the front and back, despite a trend by smartphone makers to have three or more cameras.”
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MacDailyNews Note: In September, Yoko Kubota reported for The Wall Street Journal that Apple’s TrueDepth Camera system consists of two components, “known as Romeo and Juliet among Apple engineers and suppliers… The Romeo module features a dot projector that uses a laser to beam 30,000 infrared dots across the user’s face, essentially mapping its unique characteristics. The Juliet module includes the infrared camera that reads that pattern… The Romeo module is assembled by LG Innotek and Sharp Corp.”