KGI analyst details Face ID camera for iPhone 8

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo detailed the components, manufacturing process and secret technology behind the depth-sensing camera work in Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8, according to a report by AppleInsider citing a note to investors.

Last month, reports surfaced that the facial recognition system for the iPhone 8 will be measured in ‘millionths of a second.

Apple’s facial recognition system, which was recently referred to as “Face ID” in an iOS 11 GM leak, will reportedly replace the company’s existing Touch ID fingerprint reader technology to unlock the new iPhone model.

Kuo said the system is comprised of four main components: a structured light transmitter, structure light receiver, front camera and time of flight/proximity sensor.

The structured light units — which are likely vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) arrays operating in the infrared spectrum — are used to collect depth data which is integrated with two-dimensional image data from the front-facing camera. The information is then combined software algorithms to create a composite 3D image.

He said that structured light transmitter and receiver setups are limited to an estimated 50 to 100-centimeter range.

According to Kuo, Apple needs to include a proximity sensor which can adequately calculate the time of flight. The data from this sensor will be used to activate user experience alerts, such as informing a user that they are holding an iPhone too far or too close to their face for optimal 3D sensing.

The company must conduct an active alignment process on all four modules before final assembly to ensure accurate operation.

Kuo also noted the ambient light sensor deployed in the upcoming iPhone will support True Tone display technology, which changes device display color temperatures based on data collected by ambient light sensors as well as improves the performance of 3D sensing apparatus.

He said the most important applications of 3D sensing are facial recognition, which could replace the phone’s fingerprint recognition capability and facilitate a more effective selfie user experience.

Kuo believes all OLED iPhone models will have a black coating on their front cover glass to obscure the VCSEL array, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor from visibility — a prediction that is consistent with current Apple device designs which hide the components from view.

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