Better 3D Cameras Will Be Coming to Smartphones Soon

We’ve seen gimmicky 3D cameras in phones before, but these new versions will serve a much more important purpose.

Who remembers when 3D imaging was all the rage? We had 3D-capable TVs and pretty horrible 3D cameras in phones. The HTC EVO 3D comes to mind. Wow, what a terrible experience that was. 3D cameras slipped out of the limelight. But, they are now starting to reappear. Old 3D cameras featured dual cameras that would capture separate images. These images would then be superimposed over each other to create a stereographic 3D image. Now, though, 3D cameras are being used in a new way. Apple started using 3D cameras when they introduced face ID in the iPhone X. Now, ZTE, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, claims that better smartphone 3D cameras are on the horizon. Let’s talk about this after the break.

A post over at Image Sensors World talks about an interview the president of ZTE’s mobile division recently had. In the interview the president went on to say the following:

Phone photography

“We will show the world’s first under-screen 3D structured light technology! ZTE is the world’s first company to achieve true full-screen form, true 3D security, and human-machine interaction. It will provide a more wonderful selfie experience. It further lays a solid foundation for the future evolution of the smartphone form.”

President of ZTE’s mobile division

These are pretty bold claims indeed, especially from a relatively unknown company outside of Asia. While their smartphones were briefly sold in the USA, they were recently removed from US shops due to claims of nefarious activities. However, put those claims aside for a minute and take in what is being said here. The technology sounds pretty exciting.

What Will These New 3D Cameras Do?

3D Cameras
Image Credit ZTE

This is an excellent question. While details on the new 3D cameras are scarce, a few ideas are floating around. First of all, it’s important to note that this will be the second generation of this camera. Secondly, the camera is located under the screen of the smartphone. Awesome. This means we may finally be moving away from the butt-ugly notches we see at the top of current smartphones.

The 3D cameras ZTE is talking about will first and foremost be used for face scanning. The 3D light structuring cameras will be able to map your face better. It will also have a better sense of depth. This will make your phone more secure. Being able to trick phone software with a picture of someone’s face will be gone for good. For those who like taking selfies, well, your selfie game will go up a notch or two. These new cameras will be able to see you better. They will be able to measure you better. They’ll even be able to analyze light structures better thanks to AI. This will mean selfies with perfect lighting and contouring will be possible. Oh, joy! Maybe they can work on fixing skin smoothing filters while they’re at it.

This Is Exciting Tech Any Way You Slice It

While I might not be enthused about the prospect of better selfies, many will be. I’m more interested in learning more about how the camera works. 3D camera technology has advanced enough in a few short years to now be put under a screen. This is huge. The fact that Lidar is being used more and more is something else to be excited about. Having cameras that can detect depth and angles, and analyze light patterns will be a game-changer.

Imagine a world where Lidar can help you produce exquisite images. Perhaps it can help get perfect exposures every time, thanks to simultaneously measuring the light coming from all angles. Along with AI, this tech could show you how to place your subject to create more flattering portraits with any given light source. The sky is the limit here. What do you think about ZTE’s new 3D cameras? Can you see this tech coming to traditional cameras? Let us know in the comment section below.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.