The rear-facing, longer-range 3D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world.
It will work up to about 15 feet from the device, the people said. That’s in contrast with the current iPhone 3D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimetres to power Apple’s Face ID facial-recognition feature.
Apple’s new system uses a laser scanner, rather than the existing dot-projection technology which doesn’t work as well over longer distances, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unreleased features.
That’s just one of many new features – including a third, more advanced camera, enhanced photo-capture tools and a more powerful chip – that Apple plans to include in coming generations of iPhones, the people said.
The laser-powered 3D camera would enhance augmented reality on the iPhone, allowing for more accurate depth perception and placement of virtual objects.
It could also help the handset take photos that can better capture depth, the people said. Apple has been in talks with Sony about testing sensors for the new system, one of the people said.
While virtual reality immerses the user in a digital realm, AR overlays visuals and data onto a view of the real world.