iPhone 8 Kinect-like feature
Pictured: The iPhone 7 smartphone is displayed inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, Sept. 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Apple’s iPhone 8 smartphone is expected to be a far cry from its predecessor – the iPhone 7. While we are still far from the device launch, leaks about the device have begun taking a definite shape.

While we have earlier heard about the phone’s form factor, display and software, the one thing that wasn’t being mentioned in rumors until now was the iPhone camera. On Tuesday, a leak emerged from a credible source — KGI securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo — suggesting that the iPhone 8 could have a 3D-sensing front camera that may support depth sensing for games and facial recognition. According to the Verge, this camera could endow the device with the Xbox gaming console’s Kinect technology, which senses motion and then employs 3D reconstruction.

If Kuo turns out to be right, it would mean that Apple may be planning to replace its traditional front camera sensor with one that has an infrared sensor and receiver. Rather than just creating flat images, the camera would create 3D images using depth information from the new camera setup. Simply put, the iPhone 8 camera could be a shrunken down version of the Kinect.

The inclusion of this feature makes sense, since the company has indicated its interest in similar gaming applications in the past. In 2013, Apple purchased PrimeSense, an Israeli company that helped develop the 3D sensor in Microsoft’s Kinect camera peripheral in the Xbox 360.

In an interview in September last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook indicated his preference for augmented reality over virtual reality.

“My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see. Maybe it's something we're talking about, maybe it's someone else here that is not here, present, but could be made to appear to be present with us. So there's a lot of really cool things there,” he said at the time.

This kind of functionality could set the iPhone 8 apart from its main rival — the Samsung Galaxy S8, which is expected to have many similar features such as an edge-to-edge OLED display, an artificially intelligent voice assistant and an IP68 standard waterproof body, among others.