LG Innotek has begun mass-producing ToF (Time of Flight) module for smartphones. For those of you who do not know, this module measures flight-time distance, and it is used in collaboration with regular camera sensors on smartphones, we’ll talk more about that soon. LG Innotek has also confirmed that the upcoming LG G8 ThinQ will sport one of these ToF modules, though interestingly enough, it will be included on the front, and not on the back of the phone.
The company says that the distance range this ToF module can cover for 3D sensing is quite long, and LG Innotek also claims that it consumes less power than similar 3D tech, not to mention that ToF sensors can be quite thin if made properly. All that makes it perfect for use in smartphones, at least LG Innotek thinks so. LG Innotek also notes that the ToF module can be used for a number of functions, including biometric verification, motion sensing, artificial reality, virtual reality, and so on.
In its press release, LG Innotek emphasizes the importance of such 3D technology, and it believes that 3D sensing tech has great potential, and that more and more smartphone manufacturers will use it in their smartphones. LG even thinks that 3D sensing has the potential to replace the touch technology, which would be quite the feat.
The company says that if 3D sensing is applied to smartphones properly, you can actually operate various functions of the device without actually touching it. The 3D sensing module can detect specific movements and recognize them with ease, and thus consider those movements commands. This can be quite useful if you’re using gloves, or are in any other way prevented from using your phone’s display.
The company says that 3D sensing is not limited to smartphone use, though, as it can be easily applied to PCs, wearables, home electronics, and even automobiles. In cars, for example, the driver could use hand gestures in order to turn the AC on or off, to roll down the windows, fire up the radio, and so on. This could be quite useful for drivers as it would not distract them from the road, or at the very least, it would distract them to a lesser degree than actually finding buttons and pressing them, or messing around with a touch-sensitive display in a car, depending on the model.
LG Innotek says that it is “speeding up the expansion” of its 3D sensing module business, as it believes there is great potential there. The company even mentions Yole Development, a global market research company, which said that the global market size of 3D image processing and sensing devices will increase quite a bit, it will see a three-fold increase from $2.9 billion in 2018 to $9 billion by 2022.
Considering that the ToF module will be included on the front side of the LG G8 ThinQ, as LG Innotek says, it’s quite possible that some of those air gestures will be supported by the phone, as LG’s teaser hinted a while back. Those air gestures may sound familiar as we’ve seen them on smartphones a long time ago, but back then, ToF sensors were not a thing, and those air gestures were a mess, so let’s see if they will be useful this time around.