Apple is two years ahead in the 3D face sensing race

Android device makers could be waiting until 2019 to duplicate the 3D face sensing features of the iPhone, that's according to three major parts producers. Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp, and Ams AG said that bottlenecks on the production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) will mean 3D sensing technology, as seen in the iPhone X, won’t come to other phones until next year, at the earliest.

Bill Ong, senior director of investor relations from Viavi, said:

“It is going to take them a lot of time, the Android-based customers, to secure capacity throughout the who supply chain. We may have a potential introduction of a second handset maker into 3D sensing at the end of this calendar year. [But] the volumes would be very low. In 2019 you clearly will see at least two or more Android-based phones [with the technology.]”

Craig Thompson, VP of new markets at Finisar, said:

“Each customer has their own adoption timeline and rollout plan, which we can’t discuss, but we expect the market opportunity for VCSEL technology to increase substantially in 2019.”

Moritz Gmeiner, head of investor relations at AMS, said his employers would have VCSEL technology ready next year too:

“As part of a combined external and internal VCSEL supply chain where an external volume production supply chain is available to us, we are currently building internel VCSEL production capacity in Singapore. I expect this capacity to be available for mass production next year.”

The 3D sensing technology looks as though it will be restricted to higher end devices for a while yet. According to Gartner, 40% of smartphones will ship with the technology by 2021, which, even then, leaves a majority out of the loop.

In February, we reported that Apple was looking to secure cobalt direct from miners in order to avoid supply issues as its a component required for lithium-ion batteries. According to Reuters, the firm also inked a $390 million deal in December to ensure it had the components it needed from VCSEL-maker Finisar.

Source: Reuters | Image via Apple

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