Explained: How 3D imaging on smartphones can help future users – Times of India

3D imaging is a technique to create the illusion of depth in an image which is done by the process of manipulating 2D data into a three-dimensional format. According to a recent report published by PhoneArena, researchers at a US university are developing a new system that can help in bringing major improvements to smartphone cameras. These changes will allow 3D imaging on smartphones as image sensors will be able to measure the distance between objects using light. Here we will discuss how it will be possible for phone makers to adopt this technology and how will it eventually help the end-users.
What is lidar?
To include 3D imaging on smartphones, brands need to use lidar which stands for “light detection and ranging.” Lidar projects a laser light and calculates the amount of time it takes for the light to return to the device after bouncing off of a particular subject. This technology can be used to determine multiple factors that include — the speed at which an object is travelling, the distance between the object and the device, whether it is getting closer or farther away and whether it will cross paths with another object. Apple has integrated the lidar technology in the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, to improve focusing in low-light in Night Mode.
How can this technology be used by other brands?
Researchers are using a more affordable version of lidar that is cheaper than the one Apple uses. This budget-friendly version of the technology can allow other manufacturers to include 3D imaging on a larger number of handsets. The researchers are trying to create a megapixel-resolution lidar which is currently not available. The higher resolution will allow lidar to identify targets that are further away. Okan Atalar, who is a part of the research team has written a paper describing the system.
The report mentions that while describing the system Atalar said, “Existing 3D cameras need specialised pixels, which are difficult to realize in large formats and have smaller fill factors due to the complex electronics required to capture 3D in the pixels. Our approach converts standard and highly advanced 2D sensors into 3D sensors as opposed to building them from the ground up.”
So, Lidar can help smartphones to determine the depth of a photo and create a 3D model by combining multiple images clicked by a camera shooting around a subject from multiple angles.
How can 3D imaging help athletes?
The ability of smartphones to capture and analyse 3D imaging can be a breakthrough for sports and athletes. Uplift Labs is a company that analyses 3D images to help athletes with their form and technique. In the report, Sukemasa Kabayama, the CEO at Uplift Labs has confirmed that the cameras they use are not always 3D cameras. He even mentioned, “smartphone cameras have the power to capture valuable data and produce 3D visualisations using video and other applications.”
Kabayama also added that athletes always have the “risk of physical injury” and for many, it is ”a constant battle.” He mentioned that professional athletes have access to 3D technology that helps them minimise the risk of performance-related injuries, meanwhile, the ones who are everyday athletes or are aspiring to be a professional, don’t always get the help of this expensive technology.
These athletes can also gain access to the same injury-reducing information as the professionals if the cost of using 3D technology is lowered by including 3D capabilities in smartphones. He added, “With most injuries due to overexertion, improper form, or other poor body mechanics, 3D imaging can make pinpointing areas of improvement — whether that be the form or parts of the body to strengthen — a seamless task,”
How smartphone 3D cameras can be helpful for other users?


3D cameras on smartphones can also improve user security. The 3D mapping used by Apple’s True Depth Camera allows Face ID to be more secure than regular face detection. The facial recognition systems will be safer as the new 3D cameras that are being introduced to the marketplace should be able to collect even more depth information while scanning a user’s face.
Collecting more depth information will reduce the number of times that facial recognition fails to recognise your face and will also protect you from attackers trying to break into your device as your phone will have more data about your face.
The report also had comments from the executive of another 3D company. Hans Hansen, the CEO of Brand 3D stated, “With 3D cameras, you would be able to capture scenes and objects that people remotely would be able to experience as if they were physically in the room. This would be groundbreaking for remote working, learning and for safe distances during pandemics, as well as for diagnosing, treating and repairing functions in healthcare, technology, and manufacturing sectors.”

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Sagar Biswas

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