Why Apple Could Be Working on Another iPhone X Laser Sensor

November 14, 2017, 5:47 PM UTC

Apple’s iPhone X already has a front-facing 3D sensor to identify a person’s face, but it might have plans to add a similar one in the future.

The tech giant is evaluating whether to add a second 3D sensor to an iPhone it would release in 2019 that would enhance its functionality with augmented reality products that can overlay virtual objects on the real world, Bloomberg is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans.

The sensor would be positioned on the rear of the iPhone and beam lasers into the surrounding environment to create a 3D map of what’s around the handset. That map would act as the foundation for augmented reality functions, according to the report.

The rear-facing technology is similar to the existing sensor in the iPhone X that sits on the front of the device. That sensor is used to identify a person’s face, assess facial features, and determine whether he or she is the authorized owner of the handset. If the person is, he or she can get access to the iPhone’s software and make mobile purchases via Apple Pay.

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According to Bloomberg’s sources, the rear sensor is more advanced because it uses a different laser-beaming technology to capture information. That advancement is likely why Apple wouldn’t be able to get the feature to an iPhone until 2019.

Apple has been surprisingly outspoken about its excitement for augmented reality. The company offers a platform on which developers can create augmented reality applications for the iPhone, but its executives have talked extensively about their belief that Apple could dramatically expand its presence in the augmented reality market in the coming years.

Those comments have accompanied reports that Apple is working on an augmented reality headset that could be released within the next few years. Apple is also said to be working on a new operating system that would power the headset and augmented reality applications.

Apple did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment on the Bloomberg report.

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