Taiwanese laser supplier Lumentum has allegedly been tapped to supply Apple with as many as 55 million sets of 3D dual-lens camera systems through the end of 2017, and as many as 160 million more through 2018, according to a research note from the Piper Jaffray analyst-turned-augmented-reality-blogger, Gene Munster.
Munster earlier this week indicated that each front- and rear-facing dual-lens camera system will be equipped with its own vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL), which will facilitate the advanced 3D/AR-based technologies slated to debut on Apple’s high-end iPhone 8 flagship.
What Is a VCSEL Camera System?
First rumored earlier this year as a feature exclusive to the iPhone 8, these so-called vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) systems are comprised of “a diode with the laser emitting perpendicular from the top surface of the assembly, rather than a directional lens.” What this means is that the technology will be capable of performing a variety of 3D imaging and biometric security tasks at low- and high-power settings, such as serving as an optical mouse at the low end, or as a precision range-finding, texture-mapping device at the higher end.
Apple was determined to be Lumentum’s majority recipient of VCSEL systems through 2017 based on an independent analysis of the laser-maker’s sales forecast for the rest of 2017. Munster noted that during the company’s latest earnings call, executives reported recording $5 million in overall revenue for the fiscal quarter ending June 30. Interestingly, at the time Lumentum also provided optimistic guidance for its upcoming quarter based on existing orders for some $200 million in proprietary VCSEL camera systems. Further hinting at high-anticipation for Apple’s iPhone 8, Lumentum likewise noted that it’s been able to increase physical production capacity at its factory by 30% in the last year alone.
Considering various factors including the recent statements made by Lumentum, the timing of the report in relation to the company’s proposed fiscal gains, and the existing slate of rumors about the iPhone 8’s advanced VCSEL 3D camera system, Munster and his team at Loup Ventures declared that Apple’s iPhone 8 (and future iPhone models beyond 2018) have to be the recipients of Lumentum’s 3D laser sensing technology.
VCSEL 3D camera technology is just one among several new and exciting features slated to debut on Apple’s iPhone 8, which will most notably boast an all-new design highlighted by a nearly edge-to-edge OLED display, next-generation internal components, and all-new connectivity options in a package that could unfortunately cost somewhere north of $1,000 when it goes up for pre-order next month.