The sensor named in the trademark application filed by Samsung on September 18 is called ISOCELL Vizion, and would be made by the Korean company itself. The application was filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
This type of sensor is typically installed in 3D cameras that can measure depth and distance to objects by using reflected light. The technology is used to create bokeh effects and run augmented reality and 3D apps, but also for face unlock features using facial biometrics.
Samsung is already using ToF sensors on the Galaxy S20 Plus range, but the components are made by Sony and they are allegedly less effective than the Apple counterparts on the iPhone 11, according to TechRadar.
Samsung describes the ISOCELL Vizion as a ToF optical sensor to implement biometric facial recognition on smartphones. A filing information document also mentions the use of ToF sensors in automobiles and wearables for healthcare, in addition to mobile electronic devices.
Samsung was granted a patent for ToF sensors in the U.S. as far back as 2018, though at the time the sensor was described as being for iris biometrics.
By building its own ToF optical sensor, Samsung may now be able to compete with Apple in the AR and 3D arena.
Surely, a Samsung S30 or S21 capable of next-generation facial recognition tech in 2021 looks promising, but it is simply too soon to tell.