Devices > Emerging Devices Blog

Time of Flight to go Mass Market from Chinese Vendors

by Ken Hyers | Mar 15, 2021

Chinese smartphone vendors like Meizu appear to be poised to launch entry-level Time of Flight (ToF) smartphones.  The sensing technology is particularly powerful for 3D mapping of environments. With prices for the technology falling as Taiwan-based chip vendors partner with optical device makers to create ToF modules, the technology, previously only found in high-end smartphones, looks set to move to mid and entry-tier devices in the second half of 2021. 

Augmented Reality (AR) applications use sensor to build a representation of an environment around users, captured by cameras on a smartphone.  The best known of these to many users might be Pokemon Go, a game that lets players capture digital monsters that (sort of) appear to be in the real world.  But that version of AR is rather primitive.  ToF technology can be used for building more complex 3D images of the real world.  These 3D representations can be used by interior designers, contractors, gamers and technicians, among others. 

While AR applications for the smartphone are currently rather limited, their number and uses will grow rapidly in coming years as 3D mapping technology, including lasers and ToF sensors appear on more smartphones.

Strategy Analytics’ Device Technologies practice tracks and forecasts detailed imaging enabler technologies for smartphones.  Clients can access that research here.

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