Dual camera technology hit the mainstream with the launch of the iPhone 7 Plus this year, and an industry source close to Apple reports that the company is currently looking into a new 3D camera technology with LG Innotek. This could form the basis for advanced camera features in Apple’s next generation iPhone.
LG Innotek currently provides the dual camera components for the iPhone 7 Plus, although Apple acquired Israeli camera start-up LinX in April 2015 for US$20 million. The company was working on 3D camera technology for advanced zoom capabilities using compact camera modules, but the acquisition came too late to integrate the technology into the iPhone 7. It’s possible that Apple is investigating how LinX’s algorithms could be applied to hardware provided by LG.
“Apple is now studying how to apply its 3D camera technology into LG Innotek’s smartphone camera. Since LG Innotek also has its own 3D camera and related technologies, such joint efforts will likely to bear fruit sometime within next year.”
The report doesn’t shed any light on the type of 3D applications that the two companies are working on, and it’s possible that the partnership could just be looking to refine the existing dual camera setup in the iPhone. Perhaps a thinner module could see the dual camera hardware make its way to the regular sized iPhone 8 too.
Dual camera setups already allow for 3D-esque parallax mapping, which forms the basis of image refocusing, along with 2x “optical” zoom capabilities and enhanced low-light photography results. Leaders in mobile 3D vision and machine learning technologies, such as Google and Intel, are also making use of 3D camera setups for advanced compute capabilities such as object and facial recognition.
Whatever the two are up to, we’re quite likely to see a lot more dual camera smartphones hitting the market in 2017.