In a move that will increase production capacity for its TrueDepth camera system, Apple has awarded vendor Finisar with $390 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
The Texas-based company makes the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) used in the iPhone X for its Face ID, Animoji, and Portrait mode features. VCSELs also power the proximity detection capabilities in Apple's AirPods.
"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 Jeff Williams, chief operating officer at Apple, in a company statement. "Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it's a part of. We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse."
The funding will enable Finisar to expand to a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Sherman, Texas and add 500 jobs for high-skilled roles such as engineers and technicians. All of the VCSELs purchased by Apple will be made at the new Sherman plant, which will begin shipping components in the second half of 2018, or at Finisar's existing plant in nearby Allen, Texas.
"We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential," said Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar. "When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we're confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features. Finisar has always been keenly aware it takes great people to power our work and that's why we're thrilled to be adding Sherman to our family."
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As Apple's ambitions in augmented reality continue to evolve, Finisar will be a company to watch. According to the company's website, VCSEL arrays can be used in conjunction with a depth sensor to create a 3D sensing system. Apple is rumored to be bringing rear-facing depth sensors to iPhones in 2019, so Finisar's VCSEL components could come into play.