IT&Software

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

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

Less than a week after the US-based optoelectronic component maker Finisar said that it had bought a large semiconductor wafer fabrication facility to ramp VCSEL production, key customer Apple has revealed that it is supporting the move with $390 million from its "advanced manufacturing fund".

The company is expected to ship products out of the Texas plant from the second half of next year. Apple said the grant will help Finisar boost production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), used on the iPhone's X's TrueDepth camera.

Finisar will open a manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, about an hour north of Dallas, creating more than 500 jobs.

Shares of Finisar jumped 19 percent before the opening bell.

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Apple is investing $390 million in chipmaker Finisar. "We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse", Williams said. "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".

Apple has committed to investing at least $1 billion with US-based companies as part of the fund, which is created to foster innovative production and high-skill jobs that will help lay the foundation for a new era of technology-driven manufacturing in the US. The company had awarded $200 million to Gorilla Glass maker Corning in May. The more accurately depth sensors map the real world, the more precisely digital objects can float in it.While Apple nearly never talks about forthcoming products, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has been uncharacteristically vocal about Apple's future focus on AR, calling it a "big and profound" technology shift.Apple released tools for app makers to start creating AR apps over the summer and enabled it on all iPhones back to the iPhone 6s.But the lasers that are critical to AR are hard to come by because there is no existing supply chain like there is for older, more common chips.

The announcement explains why Finisar is happy to invest upwards of $100 million in the Sherman fab acquisition and fit-out; something that at least one equity analyst had questioned the wisdom of during last week's investor call.


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