With 3D sensing, the smartphone industry is more innovative than ever

Yole Developpement has released the second edition of its 3D imaging & sensing report at an extremely interesting time for this technology’s use in smartphones.

3D Sensing Smartphone Industry

(Source : 3D Imaging & Sensing 2018 – June 2018)

Chinese electronics companies Xiaomi and Oppo have just unveiled a structured light approach, while their compatriot Vivo has also surprised us with a time-of-flight (ToF) array camera. The first thing that we can get from those announcements is that Chinese brands are following the trend started by Apple’s iPhone X. This is significant news since a few voices have called 3D sensing a ‘non-event’, soon to be abandoned for in-display fingerprint sensors. By contrast, we are confident in front 3D camera demand pull. The effort from Apple might have looked a little crazy – and still does – but actually the company did what it had to do. In the context of smartphone market saturation, short-term investors had a very nice opportunity at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. STMicroelectronics came back in the consumer CMOS image sensor (CIS) business. ams became a billion dollar company. Semiconductor suppliers IQE and Lumentum got very nice runs too. Only one company – Apple – got the market moving with a single product on the market so far. So what is next? 

3D Imaging Sensing Smartphone Industry volume forecast

(Source : 3D Imaging & Sensing 2018 – June 2018)

The market obviously knows more than we do. It has priced the development of 3D all through the iOS and Android supply chains. Based on our forecast, the 3D sensing story has only unleashed a ninth of its potential. We believe all options remain open, including active stereo, structured light and ToF, although by 2020 ToF should prevail. Apple developed its structured light approach due to its link to Primesense, which gave an opportunity to launch product way ahead of competition, even if it raises costs. Apple puts the product experience first, whatever the cost, it has customers ready to pay for it. We can only admire what it has achieved so far, but they are certainly not the only ones to innovate.

3D Imaging Sensing Smartphone Industry speed

(Source : 3D Imaging & Sensing 2018 – June 2018)

Competition is actually quite innovative these days. Samsung has introduced its curved displays and high performance single cameras. Huawei brought to market multiple rear cameras. Oppo and Vivo developed the remarkable mechanical drawers which open and close to hide their cameras and sensors. Things are indeed moving really fast. Apple brings new experiences, and then the ecosystem explores multiple technical variations and approaches. This is a feat of competitive selection of design and technology. Smartphone supply chains are becoming more competitive than ever. One thing is certain – we will never go back. The new normal is to have smartphones equipped with 3D imaging and sensing technology. The cost of sensing is now much greater than computing, and the semiconductor industry is being transformed. Welcome to the interaction age. 



Photo PierreCambou YOLE 2018Pierre Cambou joined the imaging industry in 1999. Following an engineering degree from Université de Technologie de Compiègne in parallel to a master of science from Virginia Tech in 1998, as well as graduating from Grenoble Ecole de Management’s MBA, Cambou took several positions at Thomson TCS, which became Atmel Grenoble in 2001 and e2v Semiconductors in 2006. In 2012 he founded Vence Innovation, now called Irlynx, in order to bring to market a disruptive man-to-machine interaction technology. He joined market research and strategy consulting company Yole Développement (Yole) as Principal Analyst, Technology & Market, Imaging in 2014, within the Photonics, Sensing & Display division.


Source:   Yole Développement



Cover 3D Img Sensing 2018 Yole3D Imaging & Sensing 2018

The iPhone X initiated a trend. What happens next? – Get more







400x400Components for 3D Sensing Revolution – Webcast

3D sensing is setting a new paradigm for human to device interaction in the smartphone space. This newly embedded technology is built around a complex set of sub-components assembled to provide scene understanding beyond the traditional 2D video. Depth perception in this market is a difficult task knowing the constrained cost, space and power considerations.

Yole Developpement and System Plus Consulting have organized a special webcast on July 10th 2018 – you can still register here, do not miss it!