Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo has today unveiled new 3D sensing technology which it says has 10 times the accuracy of the Face ID authentication system in Apple's iPhone X.
Vivo says its Time of Flight (TOF) system uses 300,000 data points to map the user's face in three dimensions, compared to the 30,000 points of infrared light used in Apple's facial mapping technology.
The TOF system works by detecting the time it takes for emitted pulse light to return to the sensor, which allows it to accurately map objects at up to three meters in front of it, according to Vivo. The company said the tech would enable "new opportunities in facial, gesture and motion recognition, 3D photography and AR, expanding the capabilities of the next generation of smart devices."
"From last year's debut of In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology, the recent launch of the truly bezel-less Vivo NEX, to our ground-breaking TOF 3D Sensing technology, we continue to forge ahead and evolve towards the truly intelligent future by opening new ways for the AI to help the consumer," said Alex Feng, Senior Vice President of Vivo. "By combining TOF 3D Sensing Technology with AI, we will continue to explore new possibilities for a better future."
Vivo demonstrated the 3D sensing technology at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, a stage it has used in the past to make similar big reveals. Last year Vivo used the platform to unveil its screen-embedded fingerprint sensor technology, at a time when Apple was thought to be struggling to achieve the same result. Of course, it later emerged that Apple was leaving fingerprint recognition systems behind.
Vivo says its latest 3D sensing tech is "no mere proof of concept", but it will be a while before it makes it into a commercial smartphone. Whether the increased number of data points automatically translates in practice to better security and accuracy remains to be seen.