iPad Pro Gets Special Augmented Reality Hardware
A new report from South Korean tech website The Elec states that the iPad Pro model coming in 2020 will have time-of-flight camera sensors which will be capable of determining distances of objects in a room. This corroborates an earlier report by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo which had also stated that the iPad Pro launching next year would have similar feature.
The arrival of the feature on the iPad Pro before the iPhone pro breaks a decade old trend where Apple has been adding to iPad features it had originally introduced in the iPhone a year or two earlier. For the first time, the iPad will be getting a killer feature ahead of the iPhone should this report proves true.
This is not the first time that a smartphone will be equipped with AR sensors. Earlier this month, we reported that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ now comes equipped with depth sensors for 3D scanning and augmented reality apps. Likewise, the Samsung Tab S6 has two cameras including one with a wide-angle lens for 3D applications. There is also the Google Project Tango tablet which was also equipped with sensors that worked in concert to get the tablet an augmented reality functionality. Google eventually sidelined this for a software-based augmented reality implementation via ARCore.
With its iPad Pro AR implementation, Apple is planning to travel a similar route but by using a simpler and cheaper implementation through a 3D Time-of-Flight sensor. This will be a backside 3D camera based on the ToF principle that is also used in the Samsung S10 5G. The 3D ToF is normally used for 3D mapping and augmented reality so its incorporation in a tablet that is not even normally used for taking photos could be a pointer to Apple’s drive to create a broader platform for its augmented reality projects via ARKit.
Unlike the Samsung Tab S6 that uses two cameras, Apple is planning to use a triple camera setup for the iPad Pro.
For some time, not much has been known about these cameras but at least one has now been identified as reported in the Korean website. According to the Korean media report, a local Korean company, Derkwoo Electronics, will provide brackets and stiffeners for the iPad Pro’s 3D Time-of-Flight sensors. The Korean company has been supplying these components for Apple’s iPads and iPhones but these have been for its regular cameras so it is only logical that Apple would contract the same company for its ToF sensors.
The 3D camera setup will work in combination with a new special chip known as “matrix chip” which will allow for a more precise 3D environment measurement. This chip will form part of a new and faster A13 processors in the iPad Pro.
The Time of Flight sensors will enable future iOS devices to deliver better 3D mapping, high quality photos as well as enhanced augmented reality functionality.
For now, this remains only a rumor. It hasn’t been established as fact yet. The iPad Pro is still several months away though we are likely to have a new iPad much sooner. A report had emerged earlier this month which claimed that Apple was planning to launch a 10.2 inch iPad next month. This is not official yet but the new iPad is expected to replace the 9.7inch iPad. The iPhone Pro series is several months away and is set to replace the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR.
What is curious about the latest industry tip is the fact the iPad would get the new Time of Flight sensor ahead of the iPhone which is much smaller, easier to carry around and would have been better suited for augmented reality functionality. For some, this might raise questions about the credibility of the industry source. It remains to be seen whether this will materialize in 2020.