Apple may expand rear LiDAR sensor use to all 'iPhone 13' models

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 4
The 2021 iPhone range could use rear-mounted LiDAR across the entire range, a report claims, with the supply chain anticipating higher shipments of LiDAR components to the mobile industry in general.

The camera bump of the iPhone 12 Pro.
The camera bump of the iPhone 12 Pro.


The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max borrowed the rear-mounted LiDAR sensor from the iPad Pro. While the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini didn't include the sensor, it is suggested that the "iPhone 13" range may embrace the component across the collection.

According to supply chain sources of DigiTimes, Apple is expected to use the technology on "all its 2021 iPhone models." The components may be supplied by Sony, which has allegedly signed a three-year contract with Apple fo a "new-generation near infrared (NIR) CMOS image sensors with a single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array" for a LiDAR module.

It is thought the contract will mean the continued inclusion of LiDAR in iPhones and other hardware until at least 2023.

For the iPhone 12 Pro, the LiDAR sensor is a laser-based time-of-flight system to quickly calculate distances to an object, making it extremely useful for focusing the cameras in low-light situations. It also has the capability to create precise depth maps of an environment or scene, which has practical uses in AR apps.

There has even been the suggestion of LiDAR being included in "Apple Glass," an AR headset or smart glasses, which could not only assist in depth map creation for AR purposes, but also to assist the wearer in low visibility conditions.

DigiTimes has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple reports. While it does well on supply chain affairs, its reporting on iPhone features and specifications isn't stellar, so there is at least some plausibility to the report.

The news arrives as part of a story about an anticipated increase in VCSEL shipments from Taiwan to Android device vendors, who may be following Apple's lead in using LiDAR in their devices. The shipments to Android vendors are thought to commence in the second half of 2021.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    M68000M68000 Posts: 366member
    Would the iPhone mini have enough room for it?
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    All I care about is that the iPhone 13 returns to having Touch-ID. 
  • Reply 3 of 13
    M68000M68000 Posts: 366member
    All I care about is that the iPhone 13 returns to having Touch-ID. 
    As the saying goes - “you are preaching to the choir”...  Agreed, that would be awesome
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    All I care about is that the iPhone 13 returns to having Touch-ID. 

    Then buy an SE....    You get touch id and a great phone at a much reduced price.

    Waiting for Apple to take away FaceId from their high end phones is like waiting for the sun to rise in the east.  But, it's only partly about FaceID itself:  going back to the home button means returning from a screen that maximizes the space of the phone to a smaller screen squeezed into a smaller phone -- and NOBODY wants that.

    They already gave you what you're looking for.   So why the complaints?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    All I care about is that the iPhone 13 returns to having Touch-ID. 

    Then buy an SE....    You get touch id and a great phone at a much reduced price.

    Waiting for Apple to take away FaceId from their high end phones is like waiting for the sun to rise in the east.  But, it's only partly about FaceID itself:  going back to the home button means returning from a screen that maximizes the space of the phone to a smaller screen squeezed into a smaller phone -- and NOBODY wants that.

    They already gave you what you're looking for.   So why the complaints?
    I think he meant "under screen FPS" like many Android phones are having for the last 2 years, not in the bezel like good old days.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 824member
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?

    There have been some radical changes in LIDAR costs since Elon Musk said that. There are quite a few very low cost options including Apple's.
    GeorgeBMaccornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,547moderator
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?
    Musk talks about the reasons in a car at 1:24:30:
     


    They use alternatives that they feel work better in a car - cameras for visible spectrum, radar and sonar for occluded objects. They used LIDAR at SpaceX though for accurately guiding objects.

    The Face ID scanner works in a similar way to the LIDAR, there's a comparison video (1:44) showing the dot patterns in each:

    https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/10/the-technology-behind-the-iphone-lidar-may-be-coming-soon-to-cars/



    LIDAR works better for longer range depth tracking, which helps for AR and camera stabilization.
    GeorgeBMaccornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    mknelson said:
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?

    There have been some radical changes in LIDAR costs since Elon Musk said that. There are quite a few very low cost options including Apple's.

    That makes sense.   Never bet against technology getting better and cheaper -- and I'm surprised that Musk of all people would do so.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    Marvin said:
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?
    Musk talks about the reasons in a car at 1:24:30:
     
    .....

    Thanks!  That looks interesting and informative.   I can't watch it right now but will look forward to it -- probably tomorrow morning.

    I have to run now to help a friend set up the iPhone Pro Max he's in the process of picking up at the Apple Store.   Then I'll have to pick up his kid and try to teach him what he missed in his Algebra class.  (This being retired is a LOT of work!)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    M68000M68000 Posts: 366member
    All I care about is that the iPhone 13 returns to having Touch-ID. 

    Then buy an SE....    You get touch id and a great phone at a much reduced price.

    Waiting for Apple to take away FaceId from their high end phones is like waiting for the sun to rise in the east.  But, it's only partly about FaceID itself:  going back to the home button means returning from a screen that maximizes the space of the phone to a smaller screen squeezed into a smaller phone -- and NOBODY wants that.

    They already gave you what you're looking for.   So why the complaints?

    home button and Touch ID are two different things
  • Reply 12 of 13
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,426member
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?

    Musk is definitively wrong about autonomy, and will eventually have to include LIDAR, and also FLIR, to get past Level 2. Tesla is rated at, or near the bottom, of autonomous driving systems.

    https://mindmatters.ai/2020/10/self-driving-cars-waymo-beats-tesla-by-picking-the-right-target/

    "In fact, according to the SAE autonomy levels, where Level 0 means “not even cruise control” and Level 5 means “fully autonomous,” this software does not even qualify as a Level 3. Level 3 systems do not require constant supervision, while Tesla’s “full self-driving” explicitly requires more supervision than is ordinarily required for normal driving.

    The contrast to this is WayMo. Waymo has been specializing in Level 4 autonomy. Level 4 means that the car really does self-drive but only in specific geographies or circumstances. For instance, an automaker carefully maps out specific streets, verifies that the software is capable of navigating that street, and/or implements extra infrastructure to help the software properly navigate the area. Waymo’s success at this approach can be found imprinted on their steering wheel. While Tesla says, “you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road,” Waymo’s warning reads, “Please keep your hands off the wheel The Waymo Driver is in control at all times” (The Waymo Driver is the name of their software)."

    Elon is scamming people by charging for "full self driving" without delivering it. More to the point, the driver is liable if they disengage full self driving mode, and as in most cases, an alert driver will disengage right before the accident, thereby accepting blame and legal consequences.



    ""Where does Tesla claim that "Full Self-Driving" actually drives itself?" is a question that I was actually asked in earnest today on here."

    edited January 6
  • Reply 13 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    Marvin said:
    While this would probably be a great move on Apple's part, there are those who may disagree:

    "LIDAR is a fool’s errand… and anyone relying on LIDAR is doomed." — Elon Musk

    Obviously Musk is talking about Lidar on automobiles rather than smart phones, but it's still lidar.
    It seems to be generally believed that he says that because of the high cost of lidar, but I have not seen any definitive proof that that is the truth much less the whole truth.

    But, one thing is certain:  Musk is not usually wrong.  But then, neither is Apple.  
    Pop corn anyone?
    Musk talks about the reasons in a car at 1:24:30:
     


    They use alternatives that they feel work better in a car - cameras for visible spectrum, radar and sonar for occluded objects. They used LIDAR at SpaceX though for accurately guiding objects.

    The Face ID scanner works in a similar way to the LIDAR, there's a comparison video (1:44) showing the dot patterns in each:

    https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/10/the-technology-behind-the-iphone-lidar-may-be-coming-soon-to-cars/



    LIDAR works better for longer range depth tracking, which helps for AR and camera stabilization.

    That was really interesting:
    I had only heard that Lidar was more expensive.   But this explained how visual (with radar) was superior and Lidar would not improve anything.  Plus, it was really informative hearing how they put the hardware together and the overview of their neural engine.

    Thank you for sharing that.  
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