Huawei Technologies Co. is planning to unveil a new phone with a camera capable of taking three-dimensional pictures
The mysterious Huawei smartphone is reported to sport a Time-of-Field (ToF) lens that can generate 3D models of surroundings in real time that a user can share it with others.
The technology uses sensors developed by Sony Corp. and who can accurately measure distances by allowing light to bounce off surfaces. This depth information is used to create three-dimensional stills of people and places.
The depth information gathered by the camera can also be used to control apps and games in interesting new ways, like waving your hands in-front of the camera to interact with digital elements on-screen, according to people familiar with the new system. Developers will need to specifically implement these gestures into their apps for use on handsets with the depth-sensing 3D camera.
Besides generating pictures that can be viewed from numerous angles, Huawei’s new camera can create 3-D models of people and objects that can be used by augmented-reality apps, according to one of the people. The new camera will also let developers control apps and games in new ways, such as hand gestures, the person said, who added that some of the details may change as developers work with the technology.
The new feature — dubbed “3D Camera” at Huawei — comes at a critical juncture for the smartphone industry, which is facing cooling global demand as consumers find fewer reasons to upgrade to new phones. Huawei is aiming to boost sales and win market share from competitors such as Apple Inc. by offering users the ability to generate 3-D models of themselves and the environment in real-time, and share it with others.
“This is technology that has never been seen before and, at the extreme, has the potential to change how we view the world,” said Yusuke Toyoda, a sensors analyst at Fuji Chimera Research Inc. in Tokyo.
Huawei hopes the advanced three-dimensional images will be an important differentiator between itself and rival firms, including Samsung and Apple. The latter has increasingly focused on Augmented Reality with its latest smartphones, most recently by allowing iPhone owners to overlay a cartoon recreation of their likeness, dubbed MeMoji, over their actual face in FaceTime video calls and still images.
Meanwhile, for Sony, the world leader in production of smartphone image sensors, 3D camera set-ups could could generate billions in additional revenue, thanks to the additional components needed for the systems. The company accelerated the development of technology after the purchase of Brussels-based Softkinetic in 2015, combining the time-of-flight technology of the Belgian startup with its own ability to improve semiconductor production to create 3D chips that small enough to fit in smartphones.
We have seen 3D sensors extensively used by OEMs – such as Apple – on the front for an accurate face recognition feature and tracking, but it works best at shorter distances. Sony’s Time-of-Field sensor, on the other hand, can capture the details at longer distances. The vendor has already released a smartphone (Xperia XZ1) that lets users take 3D pictures and models, but that technology was not powered by its new time-of-flight sensors.
“Besides generating pictures that can be viewed from numerous angles, Huawei’s new camera can create 3-D models of people and objects that can be used by augmented-reality apps,” the report further added. It’s also being said that the new camera app will be open for developers to add new features, apps, and games in new ways. That’s all the details we have on the Huawei’s forthcoming device for now.