Night Vision lets you literally see in the dark with your Huawei P30 Pro or Honor View 20
When Time-of-Flight sensors were being added to the rears of smartphones, I thought they would only be for purely gimmicky features. When Honor showed off some of the gaming and camera modes on the Honor View 20, I still wasn’t convinced that rear TOF sensors could be useful. Sure, with a rear TOF sensor you can get 3D depth maps of people and use them for controlling games, but that never seemed cool enough for me to think that every phone needs this sensor, at least until I tried Night Vision on my Huawei P30 Pro.
Embedded below is a video I recorded on my Huawei P30 Pro. I am using two apps made by developer Luboš Vonásek. The first app is called Night Vision / ToF Viewer. This app lets you see everything around you in a sort of night vision. This uses the laser projector and camera to create a virtual 3D model with depth data and render it as night vision. As complicated as it might sound, it works really well although I was limited to a low resolution of 280×180. It’s free to try and play around with.
The next app is a demo version of a 3D reconstruction app from the same developer. This app lets you use the TOF camera on the back of your Honor/Huawei phone to create a 3D mesh of your room, interact in the real world with 3D cubes, view real-life objects as Minecraft blocks, or view each 3D plane as a purple wall. You can actually save the 3D mesh as a .obj file for later use. Luckily, the app is free. If you are a developer and want to implement it in your own app, the developer sells the Unity assets for $100.
These are a few examples of what Time-of-Flight sensors are really capable of. Sadly, this app only works on Huawei and Honor phones with the sensor; I tested it on the 5G Samsung Galaxy S10 and it didn’t work. Hopefully in the future, other flagships will link the TOF sensor into Camera2 API. Once OEMs start doing this and including TOF sensors, then the real magic of TOF sensors can be open to everyone who wants it.