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Watch HONOR's 3D camera prototype in action as HUAWEI looks to rival iPhone X's Face ID

Thanks to a new demo video guided by an HONOR engineer, we now know a little more about its new 3D imaging tech and how it might fit on a future phone.

Published onDecember 18, 2017

  • Huawei/HONOR showed off its 3D facial recognition technology at a recent event in London
  • It claims that its Point Cloud Depth Camera is ten times more accurate than the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera
  • Recent leaked documents show that HUAWEI’s next flagship may include a notch – could the 3D tech be included?

Like it or not, the notch is coming, and it’s all thanks to Apple. Yet while a vast number of budget Android OEMs are expected to include camera cut-outs purely as an iPhone X-aping cosmetic choice, others are reportedly looking to take advantage of the notch and offer their own alternatives to Apple’s TrueDepth camera suite.

The biggest contender in this field that we’ve seen so far is HUAWEI. We first got a glimpse of HUAWEI’s take on the technology during the HONOR View 10’s launch in China, complete with a brief demonstration of how the system’s multiple sensors combine and, of course, a quick look at how it handles animated animal emojis.

HUAWEI gearing up to launch the Mate 10 Pro with Verizon and AT&T?

Evidence has since emerged that the HUAWEI P11 will sport a notch of some kind, but it remains to be seen if the Shenzhen giant’s next flagship will include Face ID-style features. Nevertheless, HUAWEI is clearly keen on its new tech, as it showed it off again during the HONOR View 10 and HONOR 7X launch event in London.

While HONOR president George Zhao briefly touched on the newly-christened Point Cloud Depth Camera, it also made a hands-on appearance as a prototype USB-C peripheral. Thanks to a new demonstration video by Notebook Italia and guided by HONOR device engineer, Matthew Leone, we now know a little more about the 3D imaging tech and how it might fit on a future HUAWEI or HONOR phone.

Leone explains that the accessory uses a structured light near-infrared projector combined with other sensors – an RGB camera, infrared camera, near-infrared illuminator and two RGB LEDs – to create a 3D map of the user’s face.

He then shows this in action as a single photo of his own face taken via the accessory turns into a 3D model. I actually attended the event and managed to give this a try myself and can vouch for how quick and accurate the process is even at this early stage. You can see my ugly mug in 3D in the photos below.

While it’s clearly early days, representatives from HUAWEI’s HONOR sub-brand have made a number of bold claims about its TrueDepth competitor. During the presentation, a slide noted that its Face Unlock biometrics system needs just 400 milliseconds to bypass an authentication prompt. HONOR also says that the Point Cloud Depth Camera captures 300,000 points to create an accurate 3D reconstruction of your face – 10 times more so than the iPhone X.

What do you think about HUAWEI/Honor’s facial recognition tech? Could it be the killer feature that takes the P11, or perhaps a Mate 10 successor, to the next level? Let us know in the comments.

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