Friday, June 22, 2018

Yole Forecast on 3D Sensing Market

Yole Developpement publishes "3D Imaging & Sensing 2018" report:

"Apple set the standard for technology and use-case for 3D sensing in consumer. From our initial depiction of the market in March 2017, the main gap is in illumination ASP, which is greater than expected. High expenses in dot and flood illumination VCSELs from Lumentum/II-VI/Finisar, along with the dot illuminator optical assembly from ams, are the biggest technology surprises powering Apple’s $1,000 [iPhone X] smartphone.

Yole Développement (Yole) expects the global 3D imaging & sensing market to expand from $2.1B in 2017 to $18.5B in 2023, at a 44% CAGR. Along with consumer, automotive, industrial, and other high-end markets will also experience a double-digit growth pattern.

The transition from imaging to sensing is happening before our eyes. Despite half-successful attempts like Xbox’s Kinect technology and Leap-Motion hand controllers, 3D sensing is now tracking towards ubiquitousness.

Oppo made the first announcement beginning of the year with Orbeec, while Xiaomi released the Mi 8 explorer edition with Mantis as a technology partner. We expect Huawei to release its own solution soon, probably partnering with ams and Sunny Optical.

...players like Himax are currently paying the price for a lower-performance offering and are struggling to get design-ins beyond AR/VR headsets for Microsoft.

Unlike previous sensing components, the responsibility of system design does not fall on the OEM - instead, a specialist is required, such as the Primesense team that Apple acquired in 2013, or other firms like Mantis, Orbbec, and ams, which want play the “specialist” role in the new 3D imaging & sensing ecosystem. Such players orchestrate the final solution while allowing room for the best in each sub-component category.

Is 3D imaging & sensing now ripe for disruption? Yole expects it will take at least 2 -3 years before any new solution start dramatically lowering total system cost.


  1. Kinect was >> more successful than Leap Motion, and the technology inside cannot be remotely compared. In fact Leap Motion is not even a 3D sensor, just a nice hack used to track fingers, and that not well enough in all cases.

    The 3D market is waiting for a killer application to drive it. Is FaceID it ? Meh. I don't see the big User benefit relative to fingerprint biometric. Animation of emoji's is Apple's next up to bat? Really meh.

    Smartphone AR might be helped by rear facing 3D, despite Apple and Google advances on 2D sensors being aided by motion sensing data. BUT... the range and field of view will need to be expanded well beyond what smartphone form factor depth sensors can currently achieve.

    Conclusion: 3D in phones may disappear as quickly as they went in... going to go away quickly unless the hardware evolves to greatly bring in more FoV, range, density, without killing battery or form factor.

    Yolo's analysis is suspect without discussion of market drivers for 3D in phones.

    3D in AR headwear is potentially one growth area for sensor hardware vendors.

    1. Agree, 3D in AR headsets is one potential applications. Another one is VR movies production for Oculus, Google Daydream, and MS Mixed Reality.

      Also, a 3D printing slowly becomes more reliable and affordable and eventually might ignite a demand for 3D imaging and modeling.

      LiDARs, as an extreme case of 3D camera, becomes a part of almost all autonomous vehicles and many industrial robots.

    2. I can see several killer apps for 3D in phones, such as 3D measurements at the speed of taking a selfie, but unfortunately all current 3D solutions are too rough for this. We need sub-millimeter level accuracy in the range of 5-6 meters.


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