Apple has patents pending for 3D scanning technology which could feature in the iPhone 7 when it’s released. It’s the same idea behind Intel’s RealSense Camera, which has already been incorporated into some PC’s and mobile devices.
What do the patents cover?
The patents themselves are a group of several being filed under 20160238834, and mention a fair few ideas, including “a scanning depth engine, which includes a transmitter, which emits a beam comprising pulses of light, and a scanner, which is configured to scan the beam, within a predefined scan range, over a scene.”
Only so much can be said about the patents at this point , but it could include a micromirror, which is produced by used Microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) technology. For this kind of system to work, a reciever takes in the light from the area being scanned, then generates an an output based in the pulses to and from points in the scene. A processor for the system, controls the scanner to help create the reciever output, generating a 3D map of the area.
Has anyone else used 3D scanning technology like this already?
Windows Hello is using very similar technology, allowing users with RealSense cameras to use facial recognition as a means logging into their computer without a password. Intel’s technology was also responsible for the 3D depth cameras used in the Microsoft Kinect devices usually used to control the Xbox One. The Kinect controller has also opened doors for developers to make the most of its features with the help of 3D printing too.
The US Patent and Trademark office has published a patent application from Apple, which has come from their Israeli PrimeSense team. After this patent application, it is possible that this 3D scanning technology could be making an appearance in the new iPhone 7, which is set to come out in September. It could also end up becoming a feature in the new iPad or iPad Pro when they come out.
The patents themselves are particularly technical and goes into great depth, and you can take a look at here. This group of patents was first filed some time ago, 2015 in fact, and it is unknown when this patent application will go through, and when the technology will be applied to Apple’s products. However, its still exciting to know that 3D scanning technology which was out of reach for the masses, could soon be in a mobile device which is already chock full of other features and pieces of tech. Smartphones are turning into a kind of swiss army knife of technology.
Is this really a good thing?
There’s lots of pros to having so many features in one phone, such as eliminating the need for several different gadgets, but there is the worry of creating a device which can’t handle all of these different features, allowing to either have system faults or being unable to hold the right amount of charge for long. another problem could be that making all the parts and programs small enough to fit into a portable phone could compromise their complexity and leave the user with a phone with lots of sub-par features.
However, despite these risks, its certainly worth implementing this st such a scale, as development will mean this application of it will become more successful. Phones used to be several sizes bigger than they are now, and without putting the initial idea into practice, we wouldn’t have the portable technology we have now. Let’s hope this advancement in 3D scanning is as successful as it potentially can be, and make the most of the endless possibilities it will open up once it’s released.