Apple could be onboard the 2019 3D Camera trend for Smartphones that will introduce In-Air Gesture Controls
Apple has been working on depth cameras that could work with an in-air gesture system for some time now (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06 and more) that will work with Macs and a future headset. Apple's Israeli team PrimeSense then developed a miniaturized 3D camera that led to the TrueDepth camera for Face ID. While Apple's 3D camera started with facial recognition, a secondary application could be in-air gesture recognition. Apple worked with Finisar and others who make VCSEL's to make Face ID possible. The talk of gesture recognition coming to market surfaced from Apple Supplier Finisar back in March who was talking about next-gen VCSEL applications.
Earlier this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Unlike Apple, Huawei is Confident about the Strength of 2019 with a new Folding Phone, 5G and a 3D Camera."
3D cameras could be the next camera trend for 2019 as a new report claims that Sony is boosting 3D camera output because of the interest shown by many smartphone makers including Apple. The cameras can generate 3D models and be used for in-air gesture control as shown below in a photo from Sony.
The chips will power front- and rear-facing 3D cameras of models from several smartphone makers in 2019, with Sony kicking off mass production in late summer to meet demand, according to Satoshi Yoshihara, head of Sony’s sensor division.
Yoshihara added that "Cameras revolutionized phones, and based on what I’ve seen, I have the same expectation for 3D. The pace will vary by field, but we’re definitely going to see adoption of 3D. I’m certain of it."
Sony has started providing software toolkits to outside developers so they can experiment with the chips and create apps that generate models of faces for communication or virtual objects for online shopping.
Sony controls about half of the camera chip market and supplies customers including Apple, Alphabet Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., although Yoshihara declined to identify them by name, citing confidentiality agreements.
Patently Apple reported on Huawei preparing to introduce a 3D camera in 2019 and today's Bloomberg report confirms that "Huawei Technologies Co. is employing Sony’s 3D cameras in next generation models." Read more of Bloomberg's report here.
While Apple could use the Sony 3D camera module, they may decide to work with Finisar and/or Lumentum to deliver the VCSEL's needed to create their own 3D camera for gesture recognition.
With Huawei and other Chinese smartphone vendors planning to get an early jump on Apple with a 3D camera for gesture recognition courtesy of Sony, let's hope that Apple not only delivers such a camera for 2019 iPhones, but also delivers apps to make such a feature shine.