With augmented reality becoming more popular, Apple has decided that some of its future iPhones will incorporate that capability. According to a recent report on iMore.com, two of the three iPhone models Apple will release in 2020 feature rear time-of-flight 3D sensors.
The report quoted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo as stating these time-of-flight sensors will improve the photo quality of the iPhone's camera and expand Apple's augmented reality aspirations.
Other augmented reality systems, including Microsoft's Hololens, already use these sensors. A time-of-flight system can accurately map out a user’s surroundings by calculating how long it takes for a laser or LED to bounce off objects. The system differs from Face ID, which uses infrared cameras and a dot projector.
According to the iMore report, smaller time-of-flight sensors necessary for the back of a phone would be better suited for gathering data at room-scale. The sensors can better determine the distance of objects from the phone, meaning that augmented reality apps could better integrate with the environment and negate the need for users to switch their physical position.
The report quotes Kuo as stating that Apple is aggressively investigating time-of-flight technology and wants to introduce it alongside support for 5G, the combination of which will enable Apple to create a "revolutionary AR experience."