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Lumentum pinned as range-finding and face scanning laser supplier for 'iPhone 8' & 2018 model

A new market analyst report is taking laser supplier Lumentum's prediction for sales and deliveries, and extrapolating that to mean that not only is the "iPhone 8" not going to see a substantial delay, but advanced 3D sensing technologies are going to be incorporated in more iPhones in 2018 than previously thought.




Laser supplier Lumentum's fiscal report notes that in the June quarter, it recorded $5 million in revenue —but recieved orders for $200 million in bookings in the next quarter to be shipped in calendar year 2017. Additionally, in the quarter, the company noted that it increased production capacity by about 30 percent from what was anticipated a year ago.

Given the statement by Lumentum that one customer is responsible for the most of the demand, the analysts at Loup Ventures declared in a report on Wednesday that the end user is Apple, to be incorporated into the "iPhone 8" —and possibly other models in 2018.

Also, given supply costs of between $6 and $7 per phone, the fiscal gain by Lumentum, the timing of the sale, and existing iPhone product mix, Loup Ventures predicts that 55 million iPhones will sport the technology before the end of calendar year 2017. Only the "iPhone 8" is expected to contain the new range-finding technology, with the "iPhone 7s" retaining older optics and sensors.

Based on the same assumptions, Loup Ventures predicts that Apple will ship 239 million iPhones in calendar year 2018, encompassing new models at the end of next year. Of that 239 million, 160 million would incorporate the 3D sensing technology.

The vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) is a diode with the laser emitting perpendicular from the top surface of the assembly, rather than a directional lens. VCSEL applications at low power include optical mice and laser printers. At slightly higher power, such as those that Loup Ventures expects Lumentum is selling, they can be used as precise rangefinders, and texture mappers —and still be invisible to the naked eye.

Lumentum was founded in 2015. The company claims that its products are incorporated into "virtually every type of telecom, enterprise, and data center network." Lumentum's Chief Quality Officer Misha Rozenberg held a senior engineering management position at Apple between 1989 and 1994.

In February, reports started circulating that a 3D laser scanning module might appear on the "iPhone 8." At the time, it was predicted to be for facial scanning, but with a pair of lasers front and back, as expected in Wednesday's report, could be used for augmented reality in Apple's already-heralded ARKit as well.

The "iPhone 8" that the laser is reportedly destined for is predicted to have edge-to-edge OLED display with 5.15 inches of user space and a higher resolution than the iPhone 7 Plus at 2,436 by 1,125 pixels. The facial recognition technology that the VCSEL laser facilitates rumored to be in the device may replace Touch ID —but the rumor mill has conflicting information on that.

Predictions have ranged between Apple could charge a starting price of around $1000 and as much as $1200 for the starting cost of the iPhone 8.