Apple is working on 3D laser for the next iPhone

Apple to pack iPhone 8 with a rear-facing 3D laser

Fast Company reports that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) hopes to add rear-facing 3D laser technology to one of this year's iPhones to continue the company's push into augmented reality.

We speculated in June that Apple's announcement of a new augmented reality development kit (ARKit) telegraphed the addition of new AR iPhone components in the very near future. These details and many others have come from "a source with knowledge of the situation", according to the news site.

It's reportedly a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser and will bring a huge improvement to depth detection.

While the report says that Apple wants to include this feature in the iPhone 8 slated to come out this fall, there is the possibility that the hardware won't be ready until 2018. Now devs can only use the iPhone's main camera to develop AR apps.

Apple Delaying iPhone 8 Release?

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Also, the report suggests that the decade edition or the 10th Anniversary iPhone will feature the 3D laser sensors in a vertically aligned housing on the back panel.

Apple has already tipped its hand on AR, introducing ARKit as part of iOS 11. The VCSEL laser system calculates the distance light travels from the laser to the target and back, generating a Time of Flight (TOF) measurement. The system consists of a source (the VCSEL laser), a lens, detector (sensor), and a processor. Sources claim the system will cost about $2 per phone.

Essentially, the laser sends out beams of light that bounce off objects and help identify the depth of each object. The laser system is much faster and more accurate. It would also improve autofocus for the iPhone's camera. The camera lens can then focus on the desired aspect of a shot in milliseconds. Lumentum is purportedly providing most of the VCSEL lasers with Finisar and II-VI as secondary suppliers.

This new information about the iPhone 8 comes after Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts Wamsi Mohan and Stefano Pascale reported that Apple's next flagship phone could be delayed by nearly a month. Apple will likely buy the whole system in module form from either LG Innotek, STMicro, AMS, or Foxconn, said the source.

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