Apple has announced that it’s awarding Pennsylvania-based optical technology company II-VI with $410 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted that the company’s tech helps power Apple’s FaceID, Memoji, and Portrait Mode. The company also manufactures lasers that are used in the LIDAR scanner found in the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro, technology that Apple touts as being key to augmented reality experiences.
Finisar, which was later acquired by II-VI (pronounced “two-six”) received $390 million from Apple’s fund back in 2017. While this latest investment likely shows that Apple intends to keep FaceID (which is powered by II-VI’s vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) around for a while, it could also be another sign pointing to Apple’s future with AR and VR.
Tim Cook has publicly said that he believes AR is “critically important” to Apple’s future, and II-VI manufactures devices that help computers see the world in 3D. The money could help develop more advanced version of the technology already found on Apple devices, potentially for the rumored mixed reality headset. II-VI’s CEO says in Apple’s press release that the partnership with Apple “sets the stage for a new wave of breakthrough technologies that we believe will enable a wide range of applications that will benefit our world for decades to come.”
The press release states that II-VI will use the funds to expand manufacturing capacity, create jobs, and “accelerate delivery of future components for iPhone.”
Correction: A previous version of this article had II-VI written as II-IV throughout. We regret the error.