Apple’s new TrueDepth camera in iPhone X uses a dot projector to achieve its magic and a new report claims that US-based laser diode supplier Lumentum is now the only company that has won orders from the Cupertino giant for that crucial part.
According to a recent DigiTimes report, Lumentum has subcontracted Taiwan’s Win Semiconductors to manufacture the vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) component that the TrueDepth camera’s dot projector uses for Face ID and to sense depth.
The dot projector sprays your face with more than 30,000 invisible dots. A dedicated infrared camera then takes the image of your face and analyzes the dots to create a 3D mesh representing the unique geometry of your face.
Prior reports mentioned multiple suppliers as possible producers of the VCSEL part, but market sources said that Lumentum has beaten several competitors to become the sole supplier of the component as part of 3D sensing modules for iPhone X.
“As a contract manufacturer of the component, Win Semiconductor has enjoyed stable expansion in VCSEL shipments to Lumentum since the beginning of the third quarter, with the shipment boom to last into fourth-quarter 2017 and 2018,” reads the report.
iPhone X delay is blamed on low yield rates in the assembly of 3D-sensing modules.
Demand for VCSEL parts and related 3D-sensing modules is estimated to grow from $1.5 billion in 2017 to as much as $14 billion in 2020. However, component shortages and production issues are said to have prompted Android smartphone vendors to delay plans for their own 3D camera sensors until the first half of 2018.