Apple is investing in Finisar, which makes iPhone X facial identification tech

Apple is investing in Finisar, which makes iPhone X facial identification tech

Apple has big plans for proximity sensing technology in its products because it just invested US$390 million in VCSEL laser maker Finisar.

Finisar recently began production quantity shipping of its vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), a laser technology used in the iPhone X's facial recognition system and in Portrait-mode pictures.

The award will be part of Apple's $1 billion "Advanced Manufacturing Fund" to foster innovation and create jobs, Apple said in a statement. "Apple is accelerating the investment at the second source supplier to diminish its risk".

The investment will also create more than 500 high-skill jobs at Sherman. They're crucial to technologies such as augmented reality and Apple's AI-enabled Face ID biometric authentication.

Depth-sensing technology is a major point of focus right now, by Apple and its competitors. The company needs to ensure a ready supply of TrueDepth components for its new iPhone X. It's likely to add the tech to more devices going forward, including all of next year's iPhones and iPads. As a result of this investment, Apple will have a stake in the development of the chips. The factory is expected to be up and running in the second half of 2018. The Sherman facility will be hiring a bevy of engineers, technicians, and maintenance teams to run the plant.

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Founded in 1988, Finisar's primary products are transceivers and transponders that enable high-speed voice, video and data communications for networking, storage, wireless and cable TV applications. In the fourth quarter, Apple will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period, Apple said.

Headquartered in California, the company now employs 14,000 people and works with tech giants such as Cisco, Huawei, IBM, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in addition to Apple.

Apple Inc. shares fell $0.05 (-0.03%) in premarket trading Wednesday.

This image shows the inside of one of Finistar's manufacturing facilities.

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