Thursday, May 09, 2019

Himax Quarterly Update: Smartphone 3D Sensing, Low Power Imaging

SeekingAlpha: Himax Q1 2019 earnings call gives an update on its imaging business:

"First on 3D Sensing business update. At present, Android smartphone’s front facing 3D sensing adoption is still hindered by the high hardware cost, long development lead time, and the lack of killer applications. Instead of 3D sensing, most of the Android phone makers have chosen the fingerprint technology which can achieve similar phone unlock and online payment functions with a much lower cost.

Reacting to their lukewarm response, we started to work on the next generation SLiM 3D sensing total solution, aiming to leapfrog the market by providing high performance, easy to adopt and yet cost friendly total solutions, targeting the majority of Android smartphone players.

Currently we have completed the feasibility study for its Gen 2 SLiM solutions covering detailed specifications, performance and cost. Our next step is to seek feedback from Android smartphone OEMs. With that, we will then determine the way forward for its 3D sensing total solution strategy.

For the avoidance of doubt, we remain and are committed to be the leader in the optics for structured light 3D sensing where we are currently engaged in multiple development projects from multiple customers.

Being a leading provider of 3D sensing technology, we are also an active participant in smartphone OEMs’ design projects for new devices involving ToF technology. We see ToF building momentum in such use cases as advanced photography, distance or dimension measurement and 3D depth information generation for AR.

Unlike structured light 3D sensing where it provides total solution or just projector module or optics depending on customers’ needs, with ToF, we only – we will only focus on transmitter module by leveraging its WLO related expertise.

I mentioned previously that 3D sensing can have a wide range of applications beyond smartphone. We have started to explore business opportunities in various industries that are typically less sensitive to cost and always require a total solution.

Among such projects is a collaboration effort with Kneron, an industry leader in edge-based artificial intelligence in which we have made an equity investment, to develop an AI-enabled 3D sensing solution targeting security and surveillance markets. We are also working with partners/customers on new applications covering home appliances and industrial manufacturing.

On CMOS image sensor business updates. We continue to make great progress with our machine-vision sensor product lines. Himax and Emza unveiled the second generation WiseEye AIoT intelligent vision solution at the ISC West 2019 in early April.

The solution is consisted of Himax’s industry leading ultra-low power sensor and ASIC designs with Emza’s unique AI-based, ultra-low power computer vision algorithm. The solution is uniquely positioned for AIoT markets featuring battery-powered human detection sensor, AI-based machine learning and always-on visual sensor, all operating at the edge device.

Furthermore, it brings an enhanced user experience and better-informed decision-making running on minimal power and much better cost compared to similar solutions consuming much higher power.

We are pleased with the status of engagement with leading players in areas such as connected home, smart building and security. In parallel, we are actively participating in the rapidly growing AIoT eco-system, which we believe will open up further future opportunities for Himax.

For traditional human vision segments, we see strong demands in laptop and increasing shipment for multimedia applications such as car recorders, surveillance, drones, home appliances, and consumer electronics, among others.

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