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Sony shows off 3D ToF camera tech, but we've seen most of this before

A new Sony video shows off several scenarios made possible by 3D cameras, but most of them seem underwhelming.

Published onFebruary 5, 2019

  • A new Sony video has shown off potential features enabled by 3D ToF camera technology.
  • Mooted scenarios include attaching virtual messages to real-world objects, and selfie photo effects.
  • Most of the mooted use-cases are already possible to some extent thanks to ARCore.

We’ve seen punch-hole cameras in 2019, but it seems like another trend will be the adoption of 3D ToF cameras by some manufacturers. Sony is tipped to produce most of these cameras, and it’s recently posted a promo video on YouTube (seen above) to showcase the technology.

The video shows off plenty of uses for 3D ToF camera technology, dubbed “DepthSense” by Sony. But, truth be told, few of these use-cases seem game-changing.

Probably the most impressive mooted scenario was the ability to attach messages to specific real-world objects for others to find. Sony’s video also shows the ability to leave messages in specific indoor locations, bringing to mind the WallaMe app.

Other noteworthy scenarios seen in the video include selfie photo effects (drawing words with your finger and having it stay in your viewfinder), and augmented reality games that use real-world objects as part of gameplay (e.g. enemies appearing on your coffee table). The final scenario showed off some 3D scanning functionality, as a woman scans a handbag and later places the scanned item in her living room via augmented reality.

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All of these scenarios are mildly interesting at the very least, but it feels like some are already possible via the likes of ARCore. In fact, complex AR games as seen in the video are already available via the Play Store. Then there’s the 3D scanning functionality, which has been available on Sony phones in some form since the Xperia XZ1.

Still, these cameras should enable better performance when it comes to augmented reality applications and other scenarios. In fact, Sony previously promised that these cameras will be better at facial recognition than the tech powering 3D face unlock. And with companies like HUAWEI’s Honor sub-brand showing off features like body slimming on the HONOR View 20 (as controversial as that is), there’s definitely some untapped potential here.

NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S10 to make reverse wireless charging useful?

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