3D facing camera iphone

With 3D-Sensing Facial Recognition Systems, Everyone Is Expected To Follow Apple’s Lead

By: Nishtha Singh

A few days ago, Apple announced that it’s awarding Finisar $390 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. For those who have no idea regarding the award, it is a kind of an impressive investment in a critical supplier, following the $200 million that Apple awarded to Corning in May from the same fund. On the recent basis, a research note from an analyst suggested that the American company has received Apple certification for a critical iPhone X component, vertical-cavity-surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). Which means they are capable enough to create things like Face ID and Animoji possible. According to the analyst, Finisar’s recent financial disclosures indicate that Apple is going to make use of its VCSEL tech in more iPhones next year. This clearly indicates that all of next year’s iPhones will get all-screen designs complete with Face ID cameras.

According to the announcement, it is clearly seen that the TrueDepth camera is the clear component for its device going forward. After all, why invest nearly $400 million into a company that only makes this particular type of smartphone component? The company also revealed over the past few years, it has ‘rapidly adopted’ depth-sensing technology, ‘leading to the development and production of the most advanced VCSELs used in the history of consumer electronics.’ In fact, in the upcoming quarter, it is assumed that the company will apparently purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers that were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period.

It’s more like a photo studio in your pocket

Calling “Simple Cameras” the cameras in iPhone X and iPhone 8 plus can be considered as a big mistake. The combination of hardware and software in these new machines could better be likened to a movie FX or photography studio in the extent of their capabilities. And it may quite interest you to know that the standout feature on these new iPhone X camera is Portrait Lighting. In the following post, I would love to shed some light on how these cameras seem to be much more than 3D.

Now there are two kinds of camera available in the new iPhones. Both the 8 plus and the X share a dual-lens rear camera design, combining a wide-angle and a telephoto lens. In addition to the optical zooming, these cameras can be used in concert to determine the depth in a scene, which allows the iPhone to know how far away everything is. Mostly known as the basis of the new cameras’ magic, it lets you build a depth-map of the scene. It may also interest you to know that the iPhone X also has a front-facing TrueDepth camera that is mainly used for Face ID, which means it is capable of building a 3D map of the scene before it.

# Depth

Till now depth maps produced by iPhones plus developers were mainly being used for one thing- to blur the background in portraits and make the subject pop against it. This mimics the same effect in regular cameras. The only difference present there is the background blurs and all thanks to properties of the lens, and of course, its long distance from the camera sensor. Even though Apple is making use of the combination of the depth info from the two lenses, and the power of the new A11 Bionic chip, to do some crazy special effects. The new Portrait Lighting is my favorite example.

# Portrait Lighting

According to the above image, Portrait lightning makes a 3D model of the scene in your photo and re-lights it on-the-fly. With the help of two cameras, iPhone is able to take the depth-map generated leading towards the use of fancy algorithms in order to identify faces and other elements in the picture. Then, it takes virtual lights and shines them into this 3D scene. I must say, it’s quite a powerful stuff. Instead of having complex lighting rigs, you can simply slide controls on the screen. From subtle — making sure the subject’s face is well-lit when they are in shadow to dramatic where the Stage Light filter makes your subject look like they are spotlit against a dark background, the effects can be transformed entirely.

After all, it’s all about the light!

If we see from the technical point of view, photography is nothing but playing with lights. And a well-lit photo is something that separates the professionals from the amateurs. However, portrait lighting may not replace a studio full of strobes, and honestly speaking it doesn’t have to. Check out the stunning promo photos! They already show what a difference the effects can make, improving our day to day pictures beyond what is possible with any other kind of camera. I would also like to add that even the best DSLR with a Photoshop expert behind it wouldn’t be able to do what the new iPhone cameras do. Not without repainting the whole scene by hand at least.

What’s more in the future?

Portrait Lighting and the existing Portrait Mode are some of the current amazing features and are good enough on their own to sell a lot of iPhones X and 8 Plus. However, 3D maps could have an even crazier impact on your photography, let’s find out how? For example, it’s easier to pull people out of images and put them on new backgrounds or combine multiple photos into perfect group shots. Well, this certainly won’t be considered as the last time the 3D depth map is used to augment our iPhone photographs. In the future, perhaps we’ll see special effects that are not only photographically valid but are impossible to do with conventional cameras, no matter how good your setup.


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