Sony Boosts 3D Camera Chip Production after Customer Interest

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Interest from tech companies, including Apple, led Sony to increase the production of next-generation 3D sensors. The chips are expected to be used in both front and rear-facing 3D cameras in various models of smartphones. The technology also has potential uses in mobile gaming.

Expecting a 3D Revolution

Satoshi Yoshihara, who leads Sony’s sensor division, said Friday that the company will increase production of 3D sensors to keep up with customer interests (via Bloomberg).  Those customers include Apple and other major smartphone manufacturers, who could use the chips in their devices’ cameras. “Cameras revolutionized phones, and based on what I’ve seen, I have the same expectation for 3D,” said Mr. Yoshihara.  He added that “the most important thing in the coming year will be to get people excited.”

Time of Flight

Mr. Yoshihara explained that Sony’s technology is different from the “structured light” approach used in current chips. They are limited in terms of accuracy and distance. Sony refers to its method as “time of flight”.  This involves sending out invisible laser pulses and measuring how long it takes for them to bounce back. Mr. Yoshihara said that this not only produces more detailed 3D models but also works at a distance of 5 meters. He explained that the technology could be also used for mobile games, perhaps for characters that interact with the real world or for using hand gestures to control games.

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