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Kuo: 2019 iPhones Unlikely to Feature Time-of-Flight 3D Sensor in Rear Camera

Looking ahead to next year, Ming-Chi Kuo believes that contrary to some analysts' expectations, Apple is unlikely to integrate a time-of-flight (ToF) depth sensing system in the rear camera of its 2019 iPhones. Reports of Apple including rear-facing 3D sensing capabilities in its 2019 iPhone lineup first began appearing last year. At the time, Apple was said to be evaluating a ToF approach, which is different from the one it currently uses in the TrueDepth sensor system on the front of the iPhone X. TrueDepth relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion to generate an accurate 3D image for authentication. By contrast, ToF calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects to create a 3D image of the environment. However, in a note to investors this morning, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that the company would not use a rear-side application of ToF technology in next year's smartphone lineup for two reasons. First, the distance and depth information provided by rear-side ToF is currently insufficient for creating the "revolutionary AR experience" that Apple ultimately wants to develop. Kuo believes that in addition to camera distance/depth data, the complete AR ecosystem Apple is aiming for requires 5G connectivity, augmented-reality glasses, and a "more powerful Apple Map database," which is presumably a reference to Apple's efforts to enhance Maps with augmented reality features. Second, the addition of rear-side ToF would do little to