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What is TOF-3D and what does it consist of?


Within the photographic world that is being promoted in today's mobiles, a new element has appeared, a sensor that accompanies the rest of the cameras and that can give a lot of play both in photography and in other functions, do you know what TOF sensors are -3D and what do they consist of? We tell you.

If we go to a store to buy a new mobile phone or search online, in the latest models that have gone on the market we will notice that most have a fundamental detail in common, they have a large number of cameras.

Two, three, four, up to five cameras we have seen in the last two years on the back of a mobile. Each of these cameras deals with a primary function to improve the photographs and there is always one dedicated to the depth of the image.

These lenses are dedicated to achieve the blur effect that we like so much in photography, giving more importance to the person who is in the foreground and blurring everything else. However, it is necessary to have very good software so that the result is not very artificial and cuts the silhouette of the person well, or we can use a TOF-3D sensor, where the acronym refers to the terms Time of Flight.

This type of sensors is coming to mobile phones to bring that Portrait Mode closer to the result that a reflex camera could achieve. How do you get it? Using a series of light rays that work like a sonar and track the entire scene.

The rays travel at the speed of light until they find an object along the way and bounced back to the camera's sensor. Depending on how long it takes each ray to return, the system will be able to know the distance at which each object is and thus create a much more accurate 3D depth map. With this method, when using light rays, an instant result is achieved, so the photograph will not be moved.


We have already been able to test some phones with this type of sensors and it is that the brands are already including them in their most premium models, such as the Honor 20, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, the Huawei P30 Pro or the LG G8 ThinQ among others . Then we leave a sample of gaps in the photos we have taken with these and another mobile with TOF-3D sensors.

Other uses apart from photography

This technology can not only be useful for taking good photos. Moreover, it is not a new technology; we saw it years ago in the world of video games with Xbox Kinect devices that used a 3D TOF sensor to detect movement.

The world of videogames can also find mobile phones that include these sensors very useful. In mixed reality games they would allow us to interact with different characters and include them in our personal environment.

And on the other hand, they also predict this technology in the facial recognition systems. The precision with which these sensors measure the different features of our face would improve the safety of the devices and reduce the chances of fraud or failure greatly.

This technology still needs a lot of development to be used in a broader way and not exclusive to the most top phones. The TOF sensor not only occupies space in the mobile, but also requires a very powerful processor that takes care of all the information it collects.