LG Innotek will be supplying 3D Time of Flight (ToF) modules for Apple’s next generation iPads and iPhones in 2020, according to industry sources on Sept. 16.
ToF is a camera technology that allows for 3D viewing that can be applied to VR, AR and 5G. ToF is to be applied to the iPad Pros to be launched in March next year, and the iPads set for release later in September.
The ToF sensors for the iPad modules will come from Japan’s Sony, unlike last year when the sensors that LG Innotek supplied to LG Electronics’ G8 ThinQ smartphones came from Germany’s Infineon.
Sony is also likely to manufacture the ToF sensors for the iPhones as well, for which LG Innotek will be an exclusive supplier. Sony had supplied all the ToF module sensors for the rear cameras of all flagship smartphones launched to date. Sony acquired Belgium sensor firm Soft Kinetic System in 2015 to enter the ToF sensor market.
The ToF module for LG’s G8 ThinQ phone used Infineon’s sensors, but that was for the biometric recognition functions of the front-facing cameras.
LG Innotek expects sales to grow from supplying Apple, as the iPad is the best-selling tablet worldwide. Market research firm IDC figures showed that Apple’s market share in the tablet market for the second quarter stood at 38.1%, followed by Samsung with 15.2%.
Meanwhile, the ‘direct’ ToF modules developed by LG Innotek are said to be more expensive than existing ‘indirect’ products due to the usage of light-sensitive materials that makes the cameras more precise when filming longer distances.
Samsung Electronics also plans to develop image sensors for ToF modules to begin supplying in the first quarter of next year. The Galaxy S10 5G and the Galaxy Note 10+ launched this year were both fitted with image sensors from Sony.
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