Wednesday, March 22, 2017

EETimes on ST SPAD Imager in iPhone 8

EETimes quotes Yole's analyst Pierre Cambou findings that ST SPAD imager might appear in the oncoming Apple iPhone 8. Few quotes:

"Yole’s educated guess is that ST is bringing a brand new 3D (array) imager to Apple iPhone 8 — an innovation that will alter the phone’s user interface.

Here’s a fact: As many as 10 Apple engineers have been working on imaging in Grenoble over the last few years. Their presence is open knowledge among locals, according to Cambou. The local newspaper reported last summer that Apple signed a lease with the city of Grenoble to open a research and development center there. The 800-square-meter facility will reportedly focus on imaging components and employ about thirty engineers.

Cambou suspects that ST could be using Silicon on insulator (SOI)-based wafers for the new SPAD 3D imagers. He said, “This is the way people have been doing BSI in the Grésivaudan valley (in Crolles…) for a long time.


  1. is it not a combination of front facing 3D camera from primesense with IR structured light circa gen 1 kinect augmented with rudimentary proximity sensing using st tof sensors?

  2. I think so. I don't think SPAD array has been shown commercially to work. Maybe Apple spent a fortune on test chips and iteration to do this, but SPAD likely isn't near the same overall utility as Primesense. The far more interesting question, which all the chip heads seem to ignore blithely is the use case. The use case will drive the sensing properties which will in turn self select the 3D sensor type. To me, that is the far more interesting speculation.


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