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iPhone 8 may utilize 3D laser technology for a complex new feature

One of the more intriguing rumors surrounding the iPhone 8 is that it will feature a new type of facial recognition technology bolstered by advanced laser sensors.

This particular rumor first began to take shape a few weeks ago via a research note from Cowen & Company which said that the iPhone 8 will include “some form of facial/gesture recognition supported by a new laser sensor and an infrared sensor mounted near the front-facing camera.”

Far from a speculative rumor conjured out of thin air, it’s worth highlighting that Apple last year picked up Emotient, a company with specialized technology that can not only recognize faces but can even discern facial expressions and subsequently distinguish between a wide array of emotional states.

Building upon this rumor, AppleInsider highlights a new research note from J.P. Morgan’s Rod Hall who also relays that the iPhone 8 will incorporate laser technology capable of identifying faces.

A 3D sensor needs a few key features —it needs a light emitter in the form of a LED or laser diode, a light filter for a noise-free scan, and a speedy image sensor coupled with a powerful signal processor. Each aspect has some implementation difficulties, which Hall believes have been rectified by Apple and partner Primesense in a relatively inexpensive package that should add not much more than 3 percent to the build cost of an iPhone.

What remains unclear, though, is how Apple plans to take advantage of this rumored sensor capable of recognizing faces. While some believe Apple may leverage the technology in furtherance of its augmented reality plans, others maintain it may simply coexist alongside Touch ID as a means of verifying a user’s identity for certain sensitive transactions.

As Apple’s plans for the iPhone 8 begin to crystallize, it’s becoming more and more apparent why the company’s flagship 2017 iPhone may cost well over $1,000.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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