Apple is working overtime on augmented reality with the belief that it will forever change the way we use technology. Rumors last week suggested a standalone augmented reality headset from Cupertino could hit the market as early as 2020 but according to a fresh report, Apple wants its iPhone to lead the AR push.
Sources familiar with the company’s plans tell Bloomberg that Apple is working on a rear-facing 3D sensor system for the iPhone. The technology Apple is exploring would differ from the TrueDepth system used on the iPhone X in that it would use a time-of-flight approach that calculates how long it takes for a laser to bounce off an object. The data is then used to create a three-dimensional image of an environment.
Apple is expected to keep the TrueDepth camera system for the front-facing camera, the report notes, meaning the 2019 iPhone refresh will have front- and rear-facing 3D sensor systems of different types.
Unlike the front camera, the rear sensor system would be used primarily for augmented reality applications, likely in conjunction with ARKit, the AR development platform Apple launched at WWDC in June.
Sources say Apple is already in talks with potential suppliers that could include Infineon Technologies, Sony and Panasonic.
The idea is still in an early phase, however, and could end up being scrapped entirely. Similar rumors surfaced over the summer, suggesting the iPhone 8 / iPhone X would get the 3D laser system. Obviously, that didn’t pan out.