LG Innotek Floats New 3D Scanning Tech that Could Alter Smartphone Interactions
LG Innotek, the innovative components manufacturer affiliated with the LG brand, shot out a press release overnight that hints at a new type of sensor technology that could alter the way users interact with their smartphones. The Time of Flight (ToF) module is a 3D sensing component that, on the surface, sounds a lot like Apple’s FaceID system. But the way that LG Innotek explains the sensor’s capabilities, it likely goes a lot further than scanning the user’s face to unlock their phone.
Where it sounds similar is in the function of the ToF technology. According to LG Innotek, the ToF system can perceive three-dimensionality and projects a beam of light out into the world and records distance based on the time it takes for that light to bounce back to the sensor. (All similar to the IR sensors Apple uses to correctly pinpoint all of the intricate facial features of the user.) The next step here, though, is that the LG Innotek ToF system can also perceive spatial information and movement of an object, which opens up the possibility for the sensor to be used as an interactive, no-touch input method for smartphones. The company even went so far as to say they believe 3D sensing technology could replace touch technology in smartphones.
“For example, if 3D sensing is applied to smart phones, users can conveniently operate various functions without actually touching their devices,” LG Innotek explained in their statement. “That is because 3D sensing module can detect the specific features and movements of one’s face or hands to carry out certain commands, such as switching the screen. So, there would also be no need to take your gloves off to touch the smart phone screen in freezing cold weather.”
We won’t have to wait long to see how the technology functions in a real-world setting. LG said that the ToF module is embedded in its upcoming G8ThinQ smartphone, which will be unveiled on Sunday, February 24, the day before the official opening of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Beyond the smartphone, the company said that its technology could be applied to PCs, wearable devices, home electronics, and automobiles. In the car, in particular, LG Innotek explained that its technology could help drivers by having them avoid fumbling to find a certain button on their center console—instead, using hand gestures to control things like the AC and GPS.
As smartphones look for that next kick in the pants to reinvigorate consumer interest, something like this ToF module that completely changes the way we interact with the phone itself could be just what the industry needs.