Apple is naming another recipient of funds from its $1 billion US Advanced Manufacturing Fund that it announced 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.
Apple is currently using lasers to power Face ID, Animoji, portrait mode selfies, and even the proximity sensing on the company’s AirPods. Finisar is planning to open a manufacturing plant in Texas to create the VCSELs that Apple requires for its products. Apple says 100 percent of the VCSELs that the company purchases from Finisar will be made in Texas.
Apple’s investment is the latest after the company used $200 million to support glass supplier Corning’s manufacturing efforts. President Trump has been pushing Apple to move its iPhone production to the US, and this new Advanced Manufacturing Fund seems to be part of a response to more US-based manufacturing. Apple still isn’t directly manufacturing the iPhone in the US, but it has experimented with manufacturing the Mac Pro in the US before.
This laser investment news also comes just a month after rumors started emerging that Apple is reportedly working on a laser-based 3D sensor for the 2019 iPhone. Apple is reportedly considering firing lasers out of the rear of the iPhone, allowing it to more accurately measure depth for its augmented reality applications. Whether or not we see such a laser-based system available on the 2019 iPhone isn’t clear yet, but this latest investment does show that Apple is serious about continuing its work with laser-based technology for the iPhone.