Imagine taking a photo of your food with a 3D camera. You'll want to reach out and eat it. Imagine taking a photo of your food with a 3D camera. You'll want to reach out and eat it. Imagine taking a photo of your food with a 3D camera. You'll want to reach out and eat it. (Photo: Ana Arevalo / AFP/Getty Images)

Get ready for a 3D camera in your new iPhone

The technology is expected to turn iPhones into pocket-sized augmented reality machines.

It's a good time to be a fan of iPhones.

In recent weeks, we’ve found out that the new iPhones will have a bendable screen, will likely have the home button removed, and you might even be able to unlock it with a selfie.

Now comes word that there will be a 3D camera built into it as well. The technology appears to come from two of the four Israeli companies that Apple has acquired since 2011.

In 2013, Apple took the reins at PrimeSense, a 3D sensing company founded by entrepreneur Aviad Maizels, an alumnus of the Technion Institute of Technology and the Weizmann Institute of Science, both in Israel. The MIT Technology Review named it one of the world's 10 most important technologies. And in 2014, Apple acquired the Israel-based LinX Computational Imaging company, which builds smarter cameras for phones.

Tim Cook at an Apple event in 2012"Apple is in Israel because the engineering talent and the brilliance of the people are incredible," said Apple CEO Tim Cook of the country that is also home to 6,000 iPhone app developers. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty)

A 3D camera could be used to add augmented reality functionality to the phone. As opposed to virtual reality where you are completely transported to a new environment, augmented reality layers virtual items on top of actual places. The classic example of this is Pokemon Go. When you’re playing it on your phone, you see the sidewalk or field or building in front of you, and then Pokemon characters appear alongside them. Cameras with various lenses allow this to happen. A fully integrated built-in 3D camera would not only create a Pokemon Go on steroids, but would allow for augmented reality features all across the phone.

The Cupertino-based company is going all out with plans for their new iPhone, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

The new iPhones are partly being developed in Israel, Apple's largest R&D facility outside of the U.S. Recent news headlines have reported that Apple has 1,000 engineers working on the new phone at the 180,000-square-foot building in the city of Herzliya near the Mediterranean metropolis of Tel Aviv.

The new phones are expected to be released later this year, just in time for the holiday shopping season.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows