Mobile 3D sensing to boost IR laser projector market, says TrendForce

Mobile 3D sensing to boost IR laser projector market, says TrendForce

Market news |
3D mobile sensing is a hot topic, with many demonstration units integrating various technologies together, such as light-based or ultra-sound-based Time-of-Flight sensors, Infra-Red structured lighting with stereo cameras, or computer vision leveraging built-in motion sensors.
By eeNews Europe

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In its 2018 Infrared Sensing Application Market Report, LEDinside, a division of market research company TrendForce anticipates that the value of global infrared laser projector market for mobile 3D sensing is estimated to reach US$246 million in 2017, and is forecast to grow to around US$1.953 billion in 2020.

Infrared laser projector has three major components, including infrared laser (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser or Edge-Emitting Laser), WLO (Wafer Level Optics), and DOE (Diffractive Optical Elements), explains Joanne Wu, research manager of LEDinside.

The current costs of infrared laser projectors are around US$3.5 to 6, but this is estimated to decrease in the future as the technology advances and supply chain strategy improves, boosting the market demand as the result.

Current solutions for mobile 3D sensing include structured light and time of flight (ToF). The iPhone X uses structured light and its dot projector produces more than 30,000 dots of infrared (IR) lights on the face. Then the infrared camera receives the light reflected back from the face to create a 3D facial landscape.

In addition to 3D face sensing, branded smartphone manufacturers also actively integrate 3D sensing with augmented reality (AR).

LEDinside forecasts that 3D sensors will be incorporated either in front- or rear-cameras. Manufacturers are expected to use ToF for the rear-facing cameras as ToF can scan a larger area with better performance in computing and data processing. Moreover, ToF corresponds to the patent strategies observed at 3D sensing technology providers.

From its market research on the supply chain of 3D sensing, LEDinside likes to point out that algorithm, emission pattern and patent will be the three key elements for 3D sensing development in the future.

VCSEL/EEL wafer and chip foundries (e.g. IQE, VPEC, Win Semi, II-VI, Epistar, HLJ, AWSC) have increased their production capacity. Major VCSEL/EEL packaging companies include Lumentum, Finisar, Princeton Optronics, NeoPhotonics, Philips Photonics, OSRAM OS. As for different algorithms, PrimeSense, Mantis Vision, Qualcomm/Himax, Intel, etc. now focus on structured light technology, and STMicroelectronics, Google/Infineon/pmd, MicroVision, Orbbec, etc. use ToF technology.

Apart from Apple, Samsung and ASUS, Chinese smartphone brands like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei and OPPO, all plan to release new phones with 3D sensing. Smartphone brands are now deploying in the market and seeking for cooperation within the supply chain.

But obstacles still remain for the development of the 3D sensing market, including obtaining patents, developing third-party application, and increasing the performance-price ratio.

TrendForce – www.trendforce.com

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