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Apple pours cash into Finisar, which makes facial recognition tech
15 December 2017, 08:22 | Jenny Fowler
A Finisar technician examines a wafer during
Apple Inc is spending US$390 million to boost production from a maker of laser technology that's critical for new iPhone X features such as facial recognition.
The lasers are used by the iPhone X to scan your face for Face ID, take photos in portrait mode, and for Animoji. Still, Finisar stock is up 30 percent today, and this is a big deal for the company, which is nearly 30 years old and survived the dotcom bubble and crash experience. This is an investment and not an acquisition, however, and it's part of Apple'sAdvanced Manufacturing Fundannounced earlier this year. Finisar, a company that manufactures vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), is receiving $390 million as part of Apple's new program to fuel job creation among American manufacturers. However, due to the reduced size of bezels, Apple had to remove the home button which also housed the iconic Touch ID.
"We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential", said Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar, in a press release.
Lumentum is the top supplier of VCSELs and represents a "single source risk" for Apple, he added.
Apple says the cash will help Finisar, a chip maker, restart a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Sherman, Texas, by the second half of next year.
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When combined with the company's nearby plant in Allen, Texas, Finisar's payroll in Northern Texas is expected to be $65 million. To give a sense of just how many VCSELs Apple will need in the coming years, it claims to have purchased 10 times as many lasers in the fourth quarter of 2017 as were previously produced worldwide over a similar three-month timeline.
Sherman mayor David Plyler said: "Sherman is the ideal place for Finisar's significant investment in their operations and facilities and we couldn't be more grateful for their confidence". "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". Besides Finisar, Apple announced in May its $200 million investment in Corning Incorporated to support their R&D, capital equipment needs and glass processing. "We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse", the exec said.
While the delivery wait times for the iPhone X have come down in recent weeks, Apple simply couldn't keep up with initial demand at launch.
It will only unlock your device when you look in the direction of the iPhone X with your eyes open.
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