Nonetheless, given the big push Apple appears intent on making into the Augmented Reality space, it stands to reason that Apple will do everything it can to ensure that the feature is ready to go in time for the iPhone 8 launch.
The new laser sensor will be vital for Apple's newly announced ARKit, which developers will use to develop AR experiences for the iPhone. The source suggests that the main issue in this case is integrated the laser system into the iPhone, rather than the system itself.
A laser system on the back of the next iPhone will also greatly improve autofocus. Thereby, the company is reportedly working on a rear-facing 3D laser system for the device.
For now, ARKit relies on the iPhone's camera to estimate the depth of the real world and place virtual objects. Incidentally, it's widely believed that Apple will use a similar type of technology on the iPhone 8's front-facing cameras for facial recognition purposes. The question is how long Apple can wait after the introduction of ARKit to get the laser into the iPhone. The VCSEL laser system calculates the distance light travels from the laser to the target and back, generating a Time of Flight (TOF) measurement. For the uninitiated, early reports regarding iPhone 8 hints that Apple would be moving the TouchID to the back of the smartphone in order to fit in a larger display with thin bezels in front. The system consists of a source (the VCSEL laser), a lens, detector (sensor), and a processor. Sources claim the system will cost about $2 per phone. This ought to also help the iPhone's already-impressive camera be much quicker and more accurate, but augmented reality will nearly certainly be the special use case for the tech's inclusion in the iPhone 8. Whereas for camera tech, the lens can better focus on a specific aspect of the filed of view.
Current iPhones use another kind of autofocus called phase detection autofocus, which was introduced with the iPhone 6 in 2014 under the name "Focus Pixels". Lumentum is purportedly providing most of the VCSEL lasers with Finisar and II-VI as secondary suppliers. Apple will likely buy the whole system in module form from either LG Innotek, STMicro, AMS, or Foxconn, said the source.