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Apple’s use of lidar is a sign of the 3D sensing boom to come. How to play it

 

An article written by Kif Leswing, for CNBC in collaboration with Taha Ayari,  Technology & Cost Analyst within Power Electronics and Compound Semiconductors team and Peter Bonanno, Technology & Cost Analyst Imaging at System Plus Consulting.

Wide angle, ultra wide angle and new Lidar sensor on the iPad Pro.

KEY POINTS

  • Last year, Apple started including advanced 3D sensors in its high-end iPhones and iPads.
  • One company that helps make it happen is Lumentum, which makes a kind of chip that emits lasers.
  • Technologists see 3D sensing as a critical part of developing sophisticated robots and immersive virtual and augmented reality headsets.

 

 

Last year, Apple started including advanced 3D sensors that can accurately measure how far away objects are in its high-end iPhones and iPad, and now millions are out in the world. The iPhone 12 Pro cameras use 3D sensors called lidar to focus more quickly and to execute fun filters and photo effects.

One company that helps make it happen is Lumentum, a San Jose company with a market cap of about $7.3 billion. Lumentum’s shares have risen more than 20% over the past year, and as much as 40% before they dropped earlier this week on news of an acquisition.

There are several reasons to take a closer look at Lumentum as one company that could massively benefit from the 3D sensing boom that technologists see as a critical part of developing sophisticated robots and immersive virtual and augmented reality headsets.

Lumentum doesn’t make lidar. Instead, it sells chips called vertical cavity surface emitting laser arrays (VCSELs) that are needed for lidar and other 3D sensing techniques. Apple has used Lumentum chips to enable both its Face ID sensors since 2017 and, starting earlier this year, rear lidar sensors built into the device’s camera.

In the last five years, Lumentum has sold $1.5 billion in VCSEL arrays, the company said in November. Apple accounts for 25% of Lumentum’s business, according to a Bloomberg estimate.

The entire 3D sensing market brought in $7 billion in 2020, and is growing 20% per year, according to SystemPlus Consulting, a research firm that estimates prices and identifies suppliers in the semiconductor industry.  Full article

Image: courtesy of CNBC, Jan. 2021

Source : https://www.cnbc.com/

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