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Why Apple is putting $400 million into lasers

15 December 2017

Reuters reports that the Finisar deal not only guarantees future supply of a vital component for the iPhone X and its successors, but also makes it more hard for other smartphone manufacturers to compete.

The iPhone X uses these advanced lasers to power the TrueDepth camera for Aminimoji, Face ID and bokeh-rich Portrait mode selfies.

Recent rumors have suggested Apple is working on a laser-based 3D sensor for the 2019 iPhone models.

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"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed and we're thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable", said Apple COO Jeff Williams.

Shares of Finisar leaped nearly 30% at the opening bell Wednesday.

Apple, whose products can stretch the manufacturing capabilities of suppliers, will invest the money in Finisar Corp from a US$1 billion manufacturing fund announced earlier this year with the aim of creating more American jobs. Apple's move is also about investing in American businesses.

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Shares of Finisar rival Lumentum Holdings Inc fell 12 percent to $45.80, which Henderson said validates how important 3D sensing technology is to Apple and other vendors. The company is anticipated to add 500 high-skilled workers at a formerly shuttered plant in Sherman, bringing the payroll for the Sherman plant and another plant in Allen, Texas to $65 million.

Finisar's manufacturing plant in Texas has been closed since 2012, but Apple's investment will change all that. The first recipient was Corning Incorporated, to which Apple awarded $200 million for glass processing in May. The company expects to commence shipping from the second half of 2018 itself, with all the VCSELs that Apple buys from Finisar set to be produced in the Sherman plant itself. Apple Inc is spending US$390 million (RM1.6 billion) to boost production from a maker of laser technology that's critical for new iPhone X features such as facial recognition. The iPhone X is now the only Apple product with a facial recognition sensor.

Apple's fund is created to assist the growth of US-based manufacturing, as it seeks to bring a little more production back to the States.

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It will only unlock your device when you look in the direction of the iPhone X with your eyes open.

Why Apple is putting $400 million into lasers