APPLE’S next iPhone could feature powerful camera technology built by rival Sony.
The so-called “3D camera” would turn the real world into a video game — using revolutionary augmented reality (AR) tech.
Apple is tight-lipped about this year’s iPhone 11, to the point where we don’t even know the gadget’s real name.
But a new report suggests Apple has shown interested in a three-lens camera system that could debut on this year’s iPhone.
According to Bloomberg, Sony is “boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors”, which could revolutionise phone cameras.
Apparently, this is “after getting interest from customers, including Apple”.
The report notes that Sony will kick off mass production “in late summer” in the US. Apple typically launches new smartphones in September, so the production timeline could work for a new iPhone.
So what’s the big deal with Sony’s new camera tech?
Smartphone makers are investing heavily in augmented reality, which overlays computer-generated images onto the world around you. Common examples include Snapchat filters, or the Pokémon you see in the Pokémon Go app game.
To achieve high-quality AR, cameras need to be able to work out depth — understanding how far objects are away from each other. This makes it possible to place CGI objects much more accurately, so they seem more realistic.
Sony’s system uses a “time of flight” method that sends out invisible laser pulses and measures how long they take to bounce back. This can create more detailed 3D models are a distance of up to five metres.
With very accurate AR, it would be possible to turn the real world into a convincing video game.
One example included a game where phone owners could use hand gestures to cast magic spells in a virtual game.
Sony regularly supplies camera hardware for lots of rivals in the smartphone industry.
It counts Apple, Google and Samsung among its customers, and controls about half of the camera chip market.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Apple will use any of this new camera tech in its next iPhone model but Apple CEO Tim Cook has been very outspoken about what he sees as the future potential of AR.
Apple has been approached for comment.