According to three major parts producers of the 3D sensing technology, Apple is at least 2 years ahead leading the race among established smartphone makers. The technology is pitched to be worth billions in revenues in the coming years.

This as well means that the likes of Huawei, Vivo, and others who have into copying the iPhone-ish notch recently, still have a lot of catching up to do. On the whole, originality is one question they have to respond to before being in the 3D sensing race.

As for the race, it took off in September 2013 by Apple launching the iPhone 5S packing a fingerprint-sensing home button. Its biggest rival Samsung in next year’s April came up with Galaxy S5, and others followed soon after!

The Apple 3D sensing technology does not only aim to provide precise facial recognition, but also is going to enhance secure biometrics for gesture sensing, payments, and even shopping and gaming experiences.

Gartner, a tech research firm predicts: by 2021, 40% of the smartphones will have 3D cameras that can as well be used for augmented reality. Speaking of AR, analyst Jon Erensen of the company pointed out that this tech will be ‘very important for AR.’ Therefore, in his words, this ‘is something where you don’t want to get left behind.’

Parts manufacturers Viavi, Finisar and Ams AG echoed on the fact that coming up with the key parts is the challenge smartphone brands are facing before going for mass adoption of 3D sensing. That’s why the early expectations are disappointing as it looks like the brands won’t go for the mass adoption until at least next year!

Android-based phone-makers are facing difficulties in getting their hands on VCSELs (vertical-cavity-surface-emitting lasers) that’s a chief part of Face ID hardware of Apple. Bill Ong, senior director of investor relations of Viavi said that Android producers will have to cross a lengthy hurdle before securing capacity in the supply chain.

We may have a potential introduction of a second handset maker into 3D sensing at the end of this calendar year. (But) the volumes would be very low. In 2019 you clearly will see at least two or more android-based phones. – Bill Ong, senior director of investor relations of Viavi

Viavi is the leading supplier of optical fibers required for 3D sensing tech. Presently, they are in talks with all major Android-based phone-makers for the supply. He didn’t reveal any potential brand that can come up with a phone packing 3D face recognition before others.

Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei declined to comment on this. Stay tuned for the next update on the matter as it surfaces.

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