Sony is the global leader in imaging sensors.Engineering everything from professional DSLR’s, mirrorless cameras to smartphone sensors. Sony’s sensor division boss Satoshi Yoshihara said Sony is increasing its production of 3D camera sensors for 2019 in response to interest from major electronics manufacturers, he further stated 3D technology could revolutionize phones the same way cameras did. They are also reportedly working on an SDK for 3D imagery. Sony’s long-range 3D Camera’s are based on Time of Flight (ToF) technology (Read more here).
Apple’s collaboration with Sony
Reportedly Apple is collaborating with Sony to deploy these 3D cameras on the iPhone XI. This is expected to enhance the iPhone XI in many aspects, but mostly in photography. It will enable users to precisely map objects in 3D and focus on every part of the picture up to five meters, this will make facial recognition more consistent and reliable. Moreover, it can also be used to track objects in the dark.
This will give users more confidence as a 3D map of the users’ face makes fooling the sensor extremely difficult. Most notably, these sensors will be used for Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Sony is also reportedly working with Huawei to bring these sensors to their phones.
Uses of 3D ToF Cameras
A time-of-flight camera (ToF camera) is a range imaging camera system that resolves distance based on the known speed of light, measuring the time-of-flight of a light signal between the camera and the subject for each point of the image. In simpler words it sends out beams of light, then measures the time it takes for those beams to bounce back.
Moreover as we already know this will improve facial recognition as it makes accurate 3D models of the face. Developers can use it in applications in various ways, like hand gestures, facial movement and etc. The sensor is reported to give spectacular low-light images as well. The Oppo R17 Pro is the only smartphone in the market with a 3D ToF camera at the moment.
It will be interesting to see how this technology is implemented in phones in the upcoming year.