LG G8 ThinQ smartphone gets front depth sensor

The LG G8 ThinQ gets a time-of-flight sensor on the front, with which the smartphone can make accurate depth images. The sensor can be used to unlock the phone with facial recognition.

Both LG and Infineon, the manufacturer of the sensor, announce the arrival of the G8 ThinQ with time-of-flight sensor. LG is going to use an Infineon Real3 sensor. Infineon supplies several sensors under that name, but it is probably the small variant that was already demonstrated at the MWC fair in 2018. In a demonstration video, Infineon then showed that the sensor is small enough to stick in the front of a phone.

A time-of-flight sensor works with an infrared laser to calculate the distance to objects. The sensor sends out an infrared pattern and captures the reflected light, which is used to create a depth map.

Time-of-flight sensors have been used in smartphones for some time, but are currently on the back. For example, the Honor View 20 and the Oppo RX 17 Pro have such a sensor. Lenovo was the first to add such a chip in 2016, in the Phab 2 Pro, a phone focused on augmented reality in collaboration with Google’s Project Tango.

The sensor can be used for more applications than face unlock, such as artificially blurring the background in selfies. Whether LG will also do that with the sensor in the G8 ThinQ is not yet clear. The manufacturer speaks in the announcement about a selfie camera that can measure depth. The smartphone will be presented at the Mobile World Congress at the end of this month.