According to a new report from Bloomberg, the Touch ID – Apple’s 3D facial recognition feature on iPhone X, may not be as accurate as the company originally demonstrated. The report further adds that this is because Apple has quietly told its suppliers to lower down the accuracy of facial recognition in order to overcome manufacturing difficulties. The dot projector and speed up production are said to be the main culprit behind manufacturing woes.
Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg’s report:
As of early fall, it was clearer than ever that production problems meant Apple Inc. wouldn’t have enough iPhone Xs in time for the holidays. The challenge was how to make the sophisticated phone—with advanced features such as facial recognition—in large enough numbers.
As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation.
While the report states that Apple downgraded Face ID accuracy “only a little,” it’s unclear if user experience will be impacted because of that decision.
The core of the Touch ID manufacturing problems lies with iPhone X’s dot projector. This dot projector projects 30,000 dots onto the face of phone’s user. The lens of a laser projector is made of glass and the projector itself is made of a semiconductor material called gallium arsenide.
According to the people familiar with the situation claims that Both of these are very fragile and prone to breakage. If the microscopic components are not at the right place and are off even by several microns, a fraction of a hair’s breadth, the feature might not work as intended. So, precision is the key here.
Both the Sharp and LG Innotek struggled to combine laser and lens that make up the dot projectors. “At one point only about 20 percent of the dot projectors the two companies produced were usable,” said the source.
The report claims that Apple is expected to overcome dot projector shortage by early 2018.
Bloomberg also notes that Foxconn, Apple’s major supply chain partner, pulled 200 workers from iPhone X production line due to lack of availability of phone’s 3D sensor. This dot projector issue coupled with a tight schedule, and suppliers not given a typical two years lead time, Apple was forced to push iPhone X launch back to November 3.