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Sony ramping up 3D camera chip production to meet rising demand for smartphone integration


Sony is increasing its production of 3D camera sensors for the coming year in response to interest from major electronics manufacturers, and also working on an SDK for 3D imagery, Bloomberg Quint reports.

The company’s sensor division head, Satoshi Yoshihara, says mass production of chips for both front- and rear-facing cameras will begin in late summer, and be integrated in smartphones from several manufacturers this year. He also notes that the business is already profitable, and will impact earnings as early as April. Yoshihara says that 3D technology could revolutionize phones the same way cameras did.

“The pace will vary by field, but we’re definitely going to see adoption of 3D. I’m certain of it,” he says.

Rather than the structured light technology used by other 3D camera chip-makers, Sony uses a time-of-flight method, which Yoshihara says can provide better accuracy and work over a greater distance of up to 5 meters.

Sony supplies approximately half of the camera chip market, according to Quint, with Apple, Alphabet, and Samsung among its customers. Rumor also has Sony chips coming soon to Huawei smartphones.

A spoof test with a 3D-printed head recently fooled several Android devices running 3D facial recognition, but not Face ID. In early 2018 Technavio forecasted that the global 3D facial recognition market will grow by 36 percent through 2022.

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