iPhone 7 camera is taking virtual reality to the mainstream

September 16, 2016

Apple's newest iPhone makes a cutting-edge virtual reality device — an innovation that will give additional boost to the company.

Augmented reality is one of the most exciting technologies around. If you have watched some of those modern Hollywood movies, you have probably seen how our world would look like 20-30 years from now. Who knows when augmented applications become mainstream but they are already making their way to the iPhone platform.

The rumored iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens camera system finally made its debut at Apple’s September product presentation Wednesday. With Phil Schiller taking the stage to unveil the latest iPhone camera update, it was clear that Apple is serious about their “best camera we have ever made.”

The phone's camera lays the groundwork to let users capture content with more depth, exactly the kind of technology that could lend itself to user-generated virtual reality (VR) content.

Although there weren’t drastic changes made to the physical design of the iPhone (minus that old thing called a headphone jack), Apple’s unveiling of a dual-lens camera points to a world where millions of consumers could one day put a powerful augmented reality device in their pocket.

As predicted, the Plus also has two rear 12-megapixel cameras — one with a wide angle lens and one with a telephoto lens. A new chip uses machine learning to detect objects and set exposure, focus, cinema-standard color and white balance within 25 milliseconds — 60 percent faster than before.

It’s likely that the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus is largely based on LinX’s advanced camera technology that is capable of not only delivering superior camera performance, but also allowing the cameras to intelligently sense depth, which would be ideal for 3D scanning or augmented reality app experiences.

It comes less than a year after Apple hired a top virtual reality researcher and acquired virtual and augmented reality start-up Flyby Media — which provided the image-recognition software for the three-dimensional maps created on smartphones for Google's Project Tango.

With a huge iOS developer base all looking to create the next Pokémon Go, you can expect a few developers to take advantage of the camera hardware update when it becomes available and begin creating the next augmented reality app that may actually be useful this time in our daily life.

The ability to see the distance of objects in the real world is something we as humans take for granted. You and I know how far a wall is in front of us, but a computer, or in this case your iPhone, has a harder time in sensing depth. That’s why opening up a world of depth could help with creating applications for visually impaired people, guiding them to avoid obstacles in a room by providing audio feedback to detect the location of objects nearby.

Google, meanwhile, has tried a more mainstream, low-cost approach with Google Cardboard, and recently opened Daydream, a virtual reality development platform for Android phones. Then, of course, there's Facebook's Oculus.

Even though the iPhone’s dual camera addition may not focus on advanced features like 3D depth mapping yet, as dual camera adoption expands, driving forward future app development and technology improvement, the logical evolution of the device in your pocket will be a tool that will augment the important tasks in your life — bringing you one step closer to a cyborg future.

Apple is definitely going to play in these areas because they understand better than anyone how to attach a technology brand to an emotional and visceral feel," Dediu said in a UBS research note. "Hitting home runs and nothing else was the metaphor that [Apple co-founder Steve] Jobs used. ... Behind the scenes Apple is working on everything. They're just not releasing it or talking about it.


Golfscape GPS Rangefinder: an augmented reality range finder for Golf lovers. It covers 35K+ courses. It displays the distance from front, center, and back of green.

New York Nearest Places: lets you explore New York like never before. And you have seen nothing yet. You can get the Chicago version if that’s where you live.

DanKam for iPhone: an augmented reality application for those who are suffering from color-blindness. It is an experimental application at this point, but it could have huge potential.

SpyGlass: turns your iPhone into a spyglass. Shows you a compass, GPS info, and much more on the go. Very useful for outdoors.

Theodolite: a cool little app that acts as your compass, GPS, map, and two-axis inclinometer. Great for hiking and active sports in general.

Panoramascope: this cool app gives you information about your surroundings (mountains, their names, and …). Great for those who are into outdoors, camping, and beyond.

AR Compass: great app for travel, camping, and outdoor activities. Now this is what one could call a truly modern compass.

Robotvision: an augmented reality application for iPhone that lets you explore your surroundings more effectively.

Cyclopedia: adds Wikipedia information to your reality. When you move your iPhone around, the app will automatically dig up information and display it on your screen.

Layar Reality Browser: a free application that displays digital information on the top of what you see through your camera. The app has a lot of potential, and a lot of you wrote to me to include it in this list. I still believe it has some issues that need to be resolved but it’s free. So try it!

Localscope: gives you a whole new way to explore your local area and what’s all around you. It takes advantage of data from multiple search engines and geo social networks to help you get more done in your local area.

Peaks: great application for those into climbing mountains. Or maybe you are just interested in geography. Shows you information on mountains right on your phone. Top notch app.


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Publisher: VRExtasy