Apple invests $390M in iPhone laser chip maker

Advanced Manufacturing Fund

The company makes vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which are a key part of the Face ID system used in the iPhone X, as well as enabling Animoji. This is an investment and not an acquisition, however, and it's part of Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund announced earlier this year. Corning got a $200 million investment from Apple.

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.

That's a move straight out of Tim Cook's playbook - see prior examples like cornering the market for flash memory, which helped the iPod and iPhone dominate over the past 15 years, and also helped Apple hit its insane profit margins. The company is anticipated to add 500 high-skilled workers at a formerly shuttered plant in Sherman, bringing the payroll for the Sherman plant and another plant in Allen, Texas to $65 million. In addition to the TrueDepth camera lasers, Finisar also produces proximity sensors for Apple's AirPods.

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"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", Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in a statement.

"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. 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. Analysts believe Apple's deal with Finisar means it will be entitled to the production capacity that results. "We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse", the exec said. Well, look for (or don't) more of that invisible magic in the future.

Face ID uses infrared to scan your face, so it works in low lighting conditions and in the dark.

IMac Pro details and release date come into focus
We've been expecting a December launch since the initial announcement, though Apple has been quiet on that front in recent months. For PC users running Adobe software, there are plenty of workstation hardware options that can give Apple a run for its money.

Face ID captures both a 3-D and 2-D image of your face using infrared light while you're looking straight at the camera.

That requires you to come up with a secure string of digits - or, for extra security, a string of letters and numbers - to protect your privacy.

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