Fun with VCSELs and the iPhone 8

Nov. 6, 2017
The iPhone 8 is notable because it is the first iPhone that contains lasers--two to be exact. 
Allen Nogee 720

The iPhone 8 is notable because it is the first iPhone that contains laserstwo to be exact. The iPhone 8 contains a lower-power vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) pointing backward and another higher-powered VCSEL facing forward. If you own an iPhone 8, you are holding these lasers in your hand right now but probably never knew it.

What do they do? First, they assist the iPhone 8’s camera to understand the scene the camera is viewing, and they assist with camera autofocusing. Second, the laser sensors assist virtual reality applications to understanding their physical environment, in the same way autonomous vehicles use lidar and cameras to understand their physical environment.

Lumentum is producing the majority of the VCSELs that Apple is using in their iPhones, but Apple will also buy some additional VCSELs from other manufacturers like Finisar and II-VI. While the iPhone 8 is the first Apple smartphone using VCSELs, they have been used in a variety of other smartphones for several years now. The LG G3 contained a VCSEL autofocus system back in 2014, and today a variety of Android smartphones contain VCSEL autofocus systems.

To read the full blog from Allen Nogee, click here.

About the Author

Allen Nogee | President, Laser Markets Research

Allen Nogee has over 30 years' experience in the electronics and technology industry including almost 20 years in technology market research. He has held design-engineering positions at MCI Communications, GTE, and General Electric, and senior research positions at In-Stat, NPD Group, and Strategies Unlimited.

Nogee has become a well-known and respected analyst in the area of lasers and laser applications, with his research and forecasts appearing in publications such as Laser Focus World, Industrial Laser Solutions, Optics.org, and Laser Institute of America. He has also been invited to speak at conferences such as the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), Laser Focus World's Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar, the European Photonics Industry Consortium Executive Laser Meeting, and SPIE Photonics West.

Nogee has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master's of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

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