Slowdown: Apple has invested $ 410 million in II-VI LiDAR

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Increased reality glasses could become Apple’s next flagship product thanks to its investment in the II-IV firm, which specializes in optics and is already a partner in the manufacture of the Cupertino company’s LiDAR scanner.

The partnership

Tim Cook had announced in 2019, augmented reality is an “essential” element of the future of Apple. On Friday, the Cupertino company announced that it is providing $ 410 million through its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to the little-known optics semiconductor company II-VI to “create additional resources and accelerate the delivery of future components for the iPhone ”.

The company, an Apple partner since 2017, manufactures “Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) that help power Face ID, Memoji, Animoji, and portrait selfies” made possible by the TrueDepth camera system. . II-VI also manufactures the laser used in the LiDAR scanner present in the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro. Apple says that with this investment, it will help create 700 jobs in the United States.

With a view to the development of virtual reality

But the augmented reality capabilities of II-VI are far more intriguing than the iPhone 13’s ability to capture better portraits or take brighter photos in low light. The LiDAR scanner manufactured by II-VI “measures the distance of surrounding objects up to 5 meters, operates indoors and outdoors, and operates at the photon level at speeds of the order of nanoseconds”, but its capabilities are underutilized in the iPhone and iPad. There are very few AR apps and the whole ARKit experience feels like a beta test for something bigger.

Rumors have it that these could be augmented reality glasses that Apple is in the process of developing. If that turns out, their release would be scheduled for 2023 at the earliest. So one can imagine that the company’s lasers will end up in a pair of glasses, way beyond selfies and Animoji.

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