New 3D sensor in 2020 iPad Pro could accelerate Apple AR

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There are plenty of AR apps but few people have heard of them. An Apple veteran has been tasked with changing that.
Tablets are a good way to view augmented reality, and Apple’s next AR push could start with the 2020 iPad Pro.
Photo: Apple

An iPad Pro in development for next year will be the first with a 3D scanner capable of creating digital representations of real-world objects, according to an unconfirmed report. This will supposedly be used in augmented reality and virtual reality applications.

This scanner will next appear in the 2020 iPhone, and in AR/VR goggles and glasses in coming years.

2020 iPad Pro with AR augmentation

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports “A new ‌iPad Pro‌ for release as early as the first half of 2020 will feature a new module with two camera sensors, up from one on the current model, and a small hole for the 3-D system, letting people create three-dimensional reconstructions of rooms, objects and people.”

This sounds similar to a report released last year by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities that the next iPad Pro will have “Time of Flight” laser scanning technology. This shines a laser over the environment and uses the time it takes the light to bounce back to calculate distances to nearby objects.

It’s apparently intended to improve augmented reality. Because AR involves placing virtual objects onto real-world ones, it’s important to know exactly where those real-world objects are.

3D scanners for everyone

AR looks better on larger displays, which likely explains why this 3D scanner is going first into the 2020 iPad Pro. But today’s Bloomberg report dates say that top-tier iPhones introduced in 2020 will have it.

And it will debut in a pair of AR/VR goggles in 2021 or 2022, and a glasses with the same capabilities perhaps in 2023. This echoes a report from earlier today that gave the same timeline for Apple’s goggles and more-lightweight glasses.

None of this is coming out of the blue. The iPhone maker launched its own augmented reality platform, ARKit, years ago. And it’s been hiring AR/VR experts for some time.




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