One of the trends 2019 that is emerging is the arrival of 3D cameras on smartphones. We are skeptical, this new feature would it be introduced at the expense of the innovations of autonomy, photography and performance of our smartphones?
By the end of 2018, two devices arrived on the market with a strange feature.
The first is the Oppo RX17 Pro, the latter incorporates a third strange camera on his back, in addition to the classic dual camera module. This is a TOF (Time of Flight) camera that captures a scene in 3D. This is a technology used by Microsoft for its Kinect 2.0 camera on the Xbox One. Unfortunately, it is currently useless on the Oppo RX17 Pro.
Oppo RX17 Pro
We are still waiting for the update and we could test a beta version … but we are far from convinced for the moment. The recent Honor View 20 introduces a similar feature. A third camera to scan the environment and reproduce it in 3D.
The Honor View 20 (Honor V20)
These cameras are based on ToF (Time of Flight) technology, which consists of sending laser pulses and measuring the time required for wave bounce, this covers distances up to 5 meters. What scan objects and faces.
The trend 2019 confirmed by Sony
In the mobile photography market, cameras have a wide variety of performance because of their physical and software characteristics, but in many cases they have one factor in common: the sensor manufacturer. Sony is one of the majority suppliers of smartphones.
We have just learned that the production of 3D sensors for mobile cameras has increased at Sony. The manufacturer has already shown these capabilities in its cameras with its own applications for the realization of a 3D model, as on the last Xperia XZ3. This is limited, but you can scan a face in 3D to introduce it in GIF or short videos.
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The Franco-Italian company STMicroelectronics also designs similar sensors for the Face ID technology of the iPhone X, XS and XR. This is also the case of the Chinese group Silicon, which has announced work on 3D sensors.
In 2019, one of the expected trends will be the arrival of 3D cameras on our smartphones. Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Sony, Xiaomi, Oppo … the main brands of smartphones could put themselves in 3D.
Tango Project: Google has long worked on it
Obviously, this TOF camera is reminiscent of Project Tango, Google has been working on this technology between 2012 and 2017.
The American firm wanted our mobile devices to see the world as our eyes – in 3D, with an understanding of space and movement for an awareness of the world around them. The Tango Project was a combination of hardware and software technologies, precisely designed to do just that. There was an experimental tablet manufactured by Nvidia, then a Motorola smartphone.
Read on FrAndroid: Stop Tango: the return to reality for Google?
There was also ZenFone AR from Asus.
The Tango Project's applications were important: security, modeling, help for the visually impaired, video games (associated with virtual reality), medicine, learning, cartography, robotics … The project was nevertheless stopped by Google.
3D … we remain skeptical
It should be noted that the technology used by the Tango Project was extremely accurate compared to the sensors introduced on the latest smartphones from Oppo and Honor. The Tango platform required a specific combination of traditional cameras, motion tracking sensors and infrared cameras.
This complex integration is one of the explanations for the failure of the Tango Project. The other explanation is the lack of real applications. Some AR games have been very successful, like Pokémon Go, not to mention the filters on apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Nevertheless, these applications do not require Project Tango technology to work.
As confident as we are in this increased future, we remain skeptical
The most recent proposals from Apple and Google are ARKit and ARCore. Some games and applications have been developed, as impressive as these applications are, they remain mainly technological demonstrations.
As confident as we are in this increased future, we remain skeptical. This feature could serve as a justification for the introduction of new smartphones and price increases in passing, while the main consumer expectations relate to the autonomy, the quality of cameras and the performance of smartphones.