In early 2020, TrendForce forecasted the release of more than 10 high-end smartphone models equipped with 3D sensing solutions this year, which would drive up 3D sensing VCSEL revenue* to US$1.404 billion. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on global smartphone shipment, and the Indian consumer market exhibited strong demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphone models, smartphone brand vendors have subsequently slowed down their pace of integrating 3D sensing solutions into high-end models. TrendForce is revising its forecasted 3D sensing VCSEL (for mobile devices including smartphones and tablets) revenue down to $1.207 billion for 2020, a 12% increase YoY.
TrendForce analyst Joanne Wu indicates that 3D sensing functions have become an indispensable part of flagship models as smartphone brand vendors engage in a spec war in this product segment. 3D sensing is mostly integrated into the rear cameras; its primary applications include range finding, background blur, 3D object detection, spatial modeling, and Augmented Reality. In the future, 3D sensing functions are expected to be paired with 5G connectivity, in turn becoming a standard feature of high-end phones. Total revenue for 3D sensing VCSEL is projected to reach $1.842 billion in 2021, a 53% increase YoY.
The current dominant suppliers of 3D sensing solutions include ams, Finisar, OSRAM, II-VI Incorporated, Lumentum, Sony, VPEC, LITE-ON, AWSC, Win Semiconductors, etc. 3D sensing applications in the consumer electronics market include such functions as structured light, ToF (time of flight), and active stereo vision. In particular, ToF functions are integrated into a wide variety of applications owing to their fast response times and long range.
At the moment, Apple and Samsung have each integrated ToF functions in their respective products, such as iPhone and iPad Pro for the former and S20+ and S20 Ultra 5G for the latter. In addition, direct ToF sensors are more power-efficient compared to other 3D sensing solutions. The integration of 3D sensing with 5G connectivity is expected to deliver a more interactive experience for users of mobile devices through functions such as gesture control-enabled AR. Other possible 3D sensing applications are AR-assisted interior design, home renovation, home additions, and even integration with video games. 3D sensing solutions may even see cross-industry commercial opportunities in the future.
*Note: 3D sensing VCSEL revenue in this calculation primarily includes whole IR transmitter (TX) units of 3D sensing model.