Apple Doubles-Down on Face Id in Future iPhones
posted Sunday Dec 17, 2017 by Scott Ertz
Before the announcement of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X lines this year, there were some issues in production across Apple. A rumored Apple-branded wireless charging solution might have been canceled over charging distance. The Apple HomePod has been delayed until 2018, possibly sacrificed to the production gods. But the real issue was in the availability of the iPhone X at launch, caused in part by a single piece.
The Face Id sensor, which works nearly identically to the Microsoft Kinect, was not able to be produced at the rate Apple needed. It meant that people who ordered an iPhone X on initial pre-order day might not have received them until this week. This makes Apple's announcement this week even more important.
Apple has invested $390 million into Finisar, the company that produces VCSEL, the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers that power the TrueDepth camera, which powers features like Face ID and animojis. The investment comes from the company's billion dollar Advanced Manufacturing Fund, created in May of this year, and is designed to help partner companies with new developments. Those developments are intended to enhance manufacturing in the US, rather than continuing to produce the majority of the components in China. This could be a response to the fact that the company has come under fire from manufacturing organizations, unions and even the President over this practice.
This investment will allow Finisar to refurbish a manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, which closed in 2012. The renewed 700,000-sqare-foot factory will provide 500 high-skill manufacturing jobs in the community, as well as improve the production capabilities of a company that Apple has placed a lot of their future reputation into. Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said of the investment,
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. 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.
Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar, added,
We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential. 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.
This is a big opportunity for the area, with millions in new payroll entered into the community, and the entrance of a major tech company into the business environment. David Plyler, Mayor of Sherman, said of the investment,
Sherman is the perfect place for Finisar's significant investment in their operations and facilities and we couldn't be more grateful for their confidence. We're thrilled that Finisar and Apple will be a part of the Sherman business community. The City of Sherman has invested significantly in improved infrastructure and amenities, and that's translated into an unparalleled quality of life. The city has also adopted a pro-business culture, making Sherman the industry and commerce hub of North Texas.
Combined with the company's other facility in Allen, Texas, Finisar will have a payroll of $65 million in Texas and will produce all of the company's VCSELs.