iPhone 8 could have lasers fitted to its back to help with pictures, report suggests – The Independent


The new iPhone could come with lasers, according to a new report.

The technology would be built into the back of the phone – alongside its camera – and help it sense depth. That will in turn be used for all sorts of augmented reality and photography features, according to the same report.

The feature is rumoured to be arriving in the more expensive version of the iPhone 8, which could be called the iPhone Pro, according to Fast Company. But it might not have been ready and it might actually wait until next year.

Gadgets and tech news in pictures

Gadgets and tech news in pictures

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    Designed by Pierpaolo Lazzarini from Italian company Jet Capsule. The I.F.O. is fuelled by eight electric engines, which is able to push the flying object to an estimated top speed of about 120mph.

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    A humanoid robot gestures during a demo at a stall in the Indian Machine Tools Expo, IMTEX/Tooltech 2017 held in Bangalore

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    A humanoid robot gestures during a demo at a stall in the Indian Machine Tools Expo, IMTEX/Tooltech 2017 held in Bangalore

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

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    The giant human-like robot bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie 'Avatar' and is claimed as a world first by its creators from a South Korean robotic company

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

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    Waseda University's saxophonist robot WAS-5, developed by professor Atsuo Takanishi

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    Waseda University's saxophonist robot WAS-5, developed by professor Atsuo Takanishi and Kaptain Rock playing one string light saber guitar perform jam session

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    A test line of a new energy suspension railway resembling the giant panda is seen in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

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    A test line of a new energy suspension railway, resembling a giant panda, is seen in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

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    A Mirai fuel cell vehicle by Toyota is displayed at the International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China

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    A visitor tries a Nissan VR experience at the International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China

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    A man looks at an exhibit entitled 'Mimus' a giant industrial robot which has been reprogrammed to interact with humans during a photocall at the new Design Museum in South Kensington, London

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    Japan's On-Art Corp's CEO Kazuya Kanemaru poses with his company's eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot 'TRX03' and other robots during a demonstration in Tokyo, Japan

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    Japan's On-Art Corp's eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot 'TRX03'

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    Japan's On-Art Corp's eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot 'TRX03' performs during its unveiling in Tokyo, Japan

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    Singulato Motors co-founder and CEO Shen Haiyin poses in his company's concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    The interior of Singulato Motors' concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    Singulato Motors' concept car Tigercar P0

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    A picture shows Singulato Motors' concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    Connected company president Shigeki Tomoyama addresses a press briefing as he elaborates on Toyota's "connected strategy" in Tokyo. The Connected company is a part of seven Toyota in-house companies that was created in April 2016

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    A Toyota Motors employee demonstrates a smartphone app with the company's pocket plug-in hybrid (PHV) service on the cockpit of the latest Prius hybrid vehicle during Toyota's "connected strategy" press briefing in Tokyo

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    An exhibitor charges the battery cells of AnyWalker, an ultra-mobile chasis robot which is able to move in any kind of environment during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    A robot with a touch-screen information apps stroll down the pavillon at the Singapore International Robo Expo

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    An exhibitor demonstrates the AnyWalker, an ultra-mobile chasis robot which is able to move in any kind of environment during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    Robotic fishes swim in a water glass tank displayed at the Korea pavillon during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    An employee shows a Samsung Electronics' Gear S3 Classic during Korea Electronics Show 2016 in Seoul, South Korea

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    Visitors experience Samsung Electronics' Gear VR during the Korea Electronics Grand Fair at an exhibition hall in Seoul, South Korea

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    Amy Rimmer, Research Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, demonstrates the car manufacturer's Advanced Highway Assist in a Range Rover, which drives the vehicle, overtakes and can detect vehicles in the blind spot, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

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    Chris Burbridge, Autonomous Driving Software Engineer for Tata Motors European Technical Centre, demonstrates the car manufacturer's GLOSA V2X functionality, which is connected to the traffic lights and shares information with the driver, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

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    Ford EEBL Emergency Electronic Brake Lights is demonstrated during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

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    Full-scale model of 'Kibo' on display at the Space Dome exhibition hall of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center, in Tsukuba, north-east of Tokyo, Japan

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    Miniatures on display at the Space Dome exhibition hall of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center, in Tsukuba, north-east of Tokyo, Japan. In its facilities, JAXA develop satellites and analyse their observation data, train astronauts for utilization in the Japanese Experiment Module 'Kibo' of the International Space Station (ISS) and develop launch vehicles

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    The robot developed by Seed Solutions sings and dances to the music during the Japan Robot Week 2016 at Tokyo Big Sight. At this biennial event, the participating companies exhibit their latest service robotic technologies and components

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    The robot developed by Seed Solutions sings and dances to music during the Japan Robot Week 2016 at Tokyo Big Sight

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    Aurora Flight Sciences' technicians work on an Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automantion System (ALIAS) device in the firm's Centaur aircraft at Manassas Airport in Manassas, Va.

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    Stefan Schwart and Udo Klingenberg preparing a self-built flight simulator to land at Hong Kong airport, from Rostock, Germany

Apple has been working hard on augmented reality features, which allow virtual things to be put into the real world. It showed off new software for doing so at last month's Worldwide Developers Conference, for instance, and has encouraged companies to make their own apps using it.

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Why the iPhone has a mysterious little hole next to its camera

But true augmented reality will need new sensors that can sense depth and more accurately scan the real world. And that is rumoured to be coming in September's new iPhones.

The lasers would be a VCSEL system. That sends out a laser that bounces off the object and then back into a sensor on the phone, and by timing how long that takes the phone can work out how far the light has travelled.

As well as allowing for full scanning of real environments for augmented reality, the laser would allow the phone's autofocus to work far more quickly and accurately, allowing for better photos.

Fast Company reported that Apple was still working to integrate the lasers into the iPhone 8, and that it could have to wait until the 2018 model if it is not ready in time. But Apple is already beginning production on the iPhone hardware, meaning that the decision has probably already been made.

In addition to the lasers, Apple will include depth-sensing features in its front cameras, according to previous reports. Those will be used to recognise people's faces, unlocking the handset as well as allowing for 3D photo effects.

As with many of the biggest features – including a major new redesign, and updated screen technology – the depth-sensing lasers are thought to be reserved only for the more expensive, premium version of the phone. September is rumoured to be bringing three different iPhones: the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, which will be updated versions of the most recent handset, and the far more innovative and more expensive model.

Rumours have suggested that the premium model called be called the iPhone Pro or iPhone X, and cost as much as $1,200.

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