A TikTok video showing how a mobile device takes infrared images of an iPhone user has been going around the Internet for days and has caught many by surprise.
The TikTok video, shared by user Bree Thomason, shows a digital camera with an infrared lens taking pictures of an iPhone user watching their home screen. When the iPhone user looks at the device, Thomason’s digital camera captures the iPhone, showing the iPhone taking multiple infrared images every 5-10 seconds without a command.
Since the video was uploaded to social media on May 8, it has garnered more than 230,000 likes and more than 18,000 reposts, which has alarmed some and caught many off guard.
While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple claims that it is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji feature). According to Apple, the feature is available on the iPhone X and later models, as well as iPad Pro models with the A12X Bionic chip.
The company says the feature is part of a new “TrueDepth IR camera.” This camera, located in a black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a “spotlight,” an infrared camera and an infrared emitter.
Officials say that it emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known face detection pattern when the iPhone is used, allowing the iPhone X to create a three-dimensional map of the user’s face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do it fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data.
So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking “invisible” pictures of you, but not for the reasons you might think.