Apple plows $390M into Finisar facial recognition, 500+ jobs

Apple invests $390 million in US-made iPhone lasers

Apple Inc said on Wednesday it had awarded $390 million to optical components maker Finisar Corp to boost production of laser chips that power iPhone X's features such as Face ID, Animoji and portrait mode photos.

Apple also claims that the investment will create more than 500 jobs in northern Texas, where Finisar's manufacturing plants are located.

Apple said it would buy 10 times more VCSELs than were previously made worldwide in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier. Hiring, capital equipment planning and infrastructure upgrades are already underway at the Sherman facility, which is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2018.

"The amount referred to by Apple represents anticipated future business between the companies over a period of time", Finisar said in a filing.

"One hundred percent of the VCSELs sold to Apple from Finisar will be made in Texas", Apple added.

"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", said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. "Consistent with Apple's commitment to the environment, the company intends to procure enough renewable energy to cover all of its Apple manufacturing in the U.S.". "We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse". Funding for the project stems from a $390 million grant provided by Apple Inc.

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

Presumably, Apple hopes the investment will help Finisar step up its game. "This means a lot for the Sherman area", Armstrong said.

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