How the TOF sensor in the Honor View20 powers Magic AR

How the TOF sensor in the Honor View20 powers Magic AR

Last month, Honor had this huge event in Paris to show off their new Honor View20. It is a super cool phone with an eye-catching design, great specs, and at a good price. But there was something super special about it, a TOF sensor.

What is a TOF Sensor?

The way a TOF sensor works is interesting. It tracks the distance between two objects based on the constant speed of light. A TOF sensor will emit an array of light, usually lasers, and track each one individually to create a depth map. These depth maps can be updated at high frame rates making it possible to do 3D tracking.

Honor View20 Time of Flight

What makes TOF different from the competition?

You might have heard of something like this in phones like the iPhone X or Xs. The difference is the range. The True Depth camera on the iPhone X is very small and doesn’t refresh as quickly. True Depth is essentially only good for facial recognition. TOF allows for so much more with a way larger range and faster refresh rate.


True Depth vs TOF

Why TOF?

All of the advantages of TOF sensors allow it to be used for real-time, accurate 3D tracking. So it can be used for portrait mode, body tracking for gaming, augmented reality, 3D camera sculpting, and more. Honor has pioneered all of these features in the View20. Honor even released a new app that uses the TOF sensor: AR Dancing.

3D Gaming

Honor is the first to have mobile 3D gaming, which is a huge step into the future of gaming. Current devices, especially on mobile, are just playing the game on a phone. 3D gaming actually lets you interact with the world and control a character in real time using body mapping. It brings a new level of immersion into the game that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

3D Body Mapping – Image from Honor

One of the demo games to show this off is Fancy Darts. The game uses the 3D TOF sensor on the back of the Honor View20 to track the person in real time and calculate everything about their movements to virtually throw a dart. It would be as if you are actually playing darts, but there are no darts and no board, only the View20 and a TV.

There is also a super cool Honor Gaming Dock you can put your phone in and connect to your TV for a more console-like experience.

Another game Honor released for the TOF sensor is Fancy Skiing. The game will track your movement while you lean back and forth to navigate through the slopes in the game. This uses the same 3D tracking through the TOF sensor on the back. You just connect your View20 to a TV or monitor using a USB Type-C to HDMI cable,  an HDMI Dock, or use wireless projection and get started.

AR Dancing and Magic AR

AR Dancing is a very cool new feature. It will use the 3D TOF sensor on the back of the phone to track you as you move or dance and mimic your movements onto a 3D character of your choosing. There are 4 cool characters, a robot, an Honor fan, Santa, and a reindeer.

This is done in an app called Magic AR. It tracks your movement with the TOF sensor and tracks 15 different points of movement on you, the subject. All your movement can then be seen in AR and recorded to be shared on all your social media accounts.

Magic AR demo

President of Honor George Zhao demoed this feature not too long ago. He showed himself dancing with the Honor fan character. The 3D TOF sensor was able to mimic his exact movements and recreate his dance in AR right next to him.

The Power of Kirin

All of this is powered by the Kirin 980. This chip was designed for new AR experiences just like this. It just happens to be the first publicly available 7nm chipset. It keeps cool and is super efficient. The View20 is also a phone along with a gaming beast so it, of course, has amazing power efficiency and battery life.

I already have the Honor View20, how do I get Magic AR?

Magic AR is actually already available on the Huawei App Gallery. You can download it straight from there and check it out on your Honor View20.

Magic AR from the Huawei App Gallery


All of this used to take lots of cameras or expensive tracking arrays, but Honor was able to build this all into a reasonably priced phone. The device actually starts at £499.99 in Europe but the prices might vary in other locations.

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