Vivo on Wednesday announced its Time of Flight (TOF) 3D Sensing Technology at MWC Shanghai 2018 that is touted to capture 300,000 sensor points. This is notably 10 times the number of structured light sensor points technology that is powering Face ID on the iPhone X. The Chinese company considers that its newest technology enables new opportunities in avenues such as facial, gesture, and motion recognition. Also, there is indeed a potential to bring 3D photography and augmented reality (AR) to new levels. Companies such as Oppo, Samsung, and Xiaomi already building their versions of 3D structured light technology to take on the iPhone X that uses a TrueDepth Camera sensor to project more than 30,000 infrared dots on a user's face to enable a facial recognition.
Unlike the existing developments, Vivo claims that its TOF 3D Sensing Technology offers an advanced experience by enabling 3D mapping at up to three metres from the phone while having a smaller baseline than traditional technology that is called "structured light". This makes it easier for the smartphone vendor to embed the technology in future models while maintaining their slim and compact profiles. In addition to facial recognition, which certainly appears as the prime area for the company to take on Apple's development, the new technology is projected to bring new possibilities for entertainment as it can be used to track gestures for mixed reality (MR) games and bring new AR experiences.
By enabling 3D mapping of objects situated at as far as three metres away from users, Vivo's technology has the potential to open areas for developers to build solutions that could track gestures and movements of the users' entire body. This could help upgrade the existing AR sticker experience and ultimately bring new competitors for Apple's Animoji and Memoji that both are so far exclusive to the iPhone X. By combining artificial intelligence (AI) recognition, Vivo believes that its technology can also help users capture entire objects using 3D modelling and thus scan and recreate objects virtually. The company also acclaims that its development is "no mere proof of concept". However, there isn't any specific launch date available to anticipate its arrival. The company also didn't reveal which future smartphone models will use the new technology to bring the advancements to the existing facial recognition space.
"By combining TOF 3D Sensing Technology with AI, we will continue to explore new possibilities for a better future," said Alex Feng, Senior Vice President of Vivo, in a press release while announcing the latest development.
Handsets such as Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition and Oppo Find X recently debuted with their proprietary 3D facial recognition technologies to compete against the iPhone X. Both models importantly offer an advanced face unlocking experience, as well as AR-based stickers - Xiaomi even offers its own version of Animoji, just like the Animoji characters available on the latest iPhone flagship, to leverage the advancements of the new face scanners.