An Apple camera lens supplier has confirmed that it will be shipping 3D facial recognition sensors this year, though the company didn’t comment on what exactly the sensors will be used for.
CEO Adam Lin of the Taiwan-based Largan Precision announced at a press conference that the company’s upcoming 3D sensor modules will be ready to ship in the second half of the year, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Largan is an Apple supplier, and that proposed time frame lines up with the release date of the iPhone X (also known as the iPhone 8 and iPhone Edition). Additionally, advanced 3D facial and iris recognition has long been a rumored addition to this year’s Apple flagship. Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted back in February that the iPhone X will receive a “revolutionary” optics upgrade, including the aforementioned camera module capable of infrared 3D sensing and biometric recognition.
While Lin did not specifically mention that Apple ordered the 3D modules, the Nikkei report also cited a Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst named Jeff Pu, who claimed that Apple will be the only major smartphone manufacturer to ship a flagship with such a feature this year. To lend some further credibility to that rumor, the company also revealed that it would be doubling its workforce in preparation to meet demand for new products. Apple, of course, typically spurs high demand from the supply chain when it releases new smartphones.
Apple also holds a number of patents related to advanced biometric and 3D recognition systems. One of those technologies is likely based on systems developed by 3D imaging and motion capture startup PrimeSense, which Apple acquired in 2013. Apple also acquired facial recognition technology from its purchase of Metaio, which could also be a key component of the next iPhone’s advanced sensing suite.
In addition to 3D sensing and biometric recognition, the iPhone X is also expected to feature an edge-to-edge bezel-less display, wireless charging and an all-new “Function Area” in lieu of a Home button. While we don’t know exactly when Apple will announce the iPhone X, it will likely be this coming September.