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Sony's hot feature for 2019 phones: ToF 3D

Sony 3D-camera modules have seen an increase in production in Asia after a recent surge in interest from smartphone brands. Brands such as Apple and Samsung will display Sony's 3D camera module in one form or another, industry sources say that they want to remain anonymous. Satoshi Yoshihara, head of the Sony sensory division, suggested that Sony chips will work on 3D cameras from several smartphone brands in 2019.

Sony's 3D-sensing chips are widely used, including unlocking phones using face recognition and taking pictures in focus at high speed. Using Sony sensors and 3D cameras, users can instantly measure depth even in the dark, allowing you to take photos with more precision and more media than ever before. Sony's action method here – ToF – Time of Flight – is a feature that will be widely known in the largest smartphones during 2019.

“The cameras revolutionized the phones, and based on what I saw, I have the same expectations for 3D,” Yoshihara said in a report this week. “The pace will vary depending on the area, but we will definitely see the adoption of 3D. I am sure about that.

Above, you will see some information about Sony's 3D-sensing technology. The video above is provided by LUCID Vision Labs. They show how they work with Advanced Material Handling, using modern technology Sony DepthSense Time of Flight.

WATCH: Galaxy S10 5G (probably the home of the Sony IMX ToF sensor)

Technology Time of Flight has a working distance that scales depending on the light source with which it works. The accuracy of the depth is not as high as when using structured light, but it is much lower than that of solutions with structured light, and does not require calibration in field conditions. Flight Time solutions provide full-resolution depth maps — regardless of the subject — and costs are somewhere between stereo vision (which most telephones use today) and structural lighting solutions.

One example of early sensors supporting Sony DepthSense is the Sony IMX556PLR CMOS sensor. This technology has a size of 8 mm (type 1/2) diagonally and has a resolution of VGA (640 x 480) with pixels of 10 x 10 microns. The maximum frame rate for this sensor is 60 frames per second at full resolution.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Images and texts from Sony for mobile devices Sony DepthSense for mobile devices – but not yet in mainstream consumer products.

Next you will see the infotainment vehicle motion control sensor in action using Sony DepthSense CARlib for the automotive industry. This video shows what's possible in a car with Sony's DepthSense technology, and this is a good guide for what will be possible on the phone in the near future.

This is just the beginning. These camera sensors and 3D cameras together with them will make a very interesting year 2019 for smartphones. Stay close to our smartphone hub.

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