Apple Is Allegedly Implementing Laser Technology for Their 2020 Cameras

Apple Is Allegedly Implementing Laser Technology for Their 2020 Cameras

Mobile phone cameras are progressing at breakneck speed. And just when you thought you'd heard it all, there's word that Apple is working with something that sounds ordered by Doctor Evil in the "Austin Powers" series: smartphones with new camera technology, complete with "frickin' laser beams" attached to them.

Next year's iPhone cameras are rumored to employ ToF, or "Time of Flight" technology. ToF has been around since the year 2000 and has been used in industrial applications ranging from automotive (crash detection) to gaming (gesture control) and even topographical studies.

Its application in smartphones, however, provides users with augmented reality features. ToF bolsters the camera's depth perception through a 3D camera via invisible lasers that bounce off objects in the user's environment in order to accurately judge depth. ToF will also strengthen the iPhone's autofocus capability, providing live continuous-focus capability. This new focus technology likely won't be available in the low-cost iPhone option, according to this CNBC article. As revolutionary and futuristic as ToF sounds, Apple is actually lagging behind Samsung in this arena, as the Galaxy S10 5G already uses ToF technology.

ToF differs from modern DSLR or mirrorless technology, which employ other autofocusing arrangements. In conventional systems, light coming through the camera hits one or more autofocus sensors, which measure distance via either ultrasonic or sound waves. Another system employs infrared light bouncing off a system of prisms and sensors.

What sorts of new uses can you foresee with ToF? Feel free to make your predictions and share reactions in the comment section below.

Scott Mason's picture

Scott Mason is a commercial photographer in Austin specializing in architectural imaging.

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Huawei Honor 20 Pro had this early this year FYI.
It's technology from Google's Tango project which was a battery hog years ago when it wasn't really for consumer use...
The Galaxy Note 10+ will also have it as you'll see from this week's announcement.
So not a huge Revelation and Apple didn't invent it 😉

C'mon now, Apple invents everything after everyone else does. Then they make it shiny, add an extra 1k to the price and people go nuts for it.

Troll level 3000 there! First doesn't mean right and even then might take several iterations for it to be done "right"

Right, Apple makes sure it's function following form. You'll love the way it looks...

I'd prefer Apple implement Pixel-level stacking and night sight and P30 Pro zoom.

Nexus 5x and 6p had laser autofocus in 2015. A long time ago.
Glad to see Apple is finally getting there, 5 years later (if 2020).