Rumor: Apple will release iPad Pro with time-of-flight sensor next spring

Apple will release an iPad with a time-of-flight sensor next spring, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That should help to map spaces in 3d, which can help with augmented reality. This makes the system different from Face ID, which works with converted 2D images.

The ToF camera will arrive in the iPad Pro next spring and then appear in iPhones, Macrumors reports, based on a report by Kuo of TF International Securities. The ToF sensor works by sending and receiving infrared signals, after which the software calculates how long it took the light rays to create a 3D image.

The operation is different from the infrared camera for Face ID. That camera does not work with time-of-flight. Instead, Face ID projects tens of thousands of dots on the face and takes a picture of them with an infrared camera. Software then converts the 2d image of the dots into 3d based on the appearance of the dots.

A ToF sensor is nothing new in the mobile world. It first appeared on smartphones a few years ago, in the Asus Zenfone AR. In the meantime, the ToF camera can be found on many more smartphones this year, including the Huawei P30 Pro, Oppo RX17 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. The applications for this depth camera are still limited.

It has been rumored for much longer that Apple wants to use ToF sensors for augmented reality, but so far the sensor has not appeared on any device.