Demand For 3D Sensing Grows, VCSEL Output Value Will Rise To US$1.8 Billion In 2021

- Jan 18, 2021-

Demand for 3D sensing grows, VCSEL output value will rise to US$1.8 billion in 2021

Current status of VCSEL components in the 3D sensing market 

After Apple first launched the iPhone X equipped with 3D sensing in 2018, it drove the overall VCSEL component market scale to grow vigorously that year, and the annual growth rate increased by multiples. At the same time, the industry has begun to think about the feasibility of applying related components in different scenarios. However, due to factors such as unclear product positioning, difficulties in the production of some components, and the need to cooperate with high-precision algorithms, VCSELs have experienced a slowdown in growth in 2019. Affected by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the annual growth rate may drop to 11.9%, and the estimated output value is about 1.2 billion US dollars.

Starting in the second half of 2020, as the new crown pneumonia epidemic has gradually gained moderate control and the market has entered the traditional peak season, terminal demand has gradually recovered and stabilized. Major manufacturers will be equipped with 3D sensing functions in high-end and flagship mobile phones in 2021. VCSEL components will be gradually introduced into the rear lens. In addition, due to the increase in automotive LiDAR systems required for the development of self-driving cars, and the increase in demand for other customized products such as glasses and medical beauty, the overall output value will rise to About 1.8 billion US dollars, the annual growth rate rebounded to 52.6%.

In view of the current main application types of 3D sensing, the booming development of Apple iPhone X application scenarios has driven the explosion of demand in the VCSEL industry. At present, most mainstream markets still use high-end and higher mobile phone applications as the largest case, followed by functions such as remote ranging and object modeling for car lidar and security monitoring. On the whole, although the VCSEL component market is currently affected by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, as terminal demand gradually stabilizes, it is expected to continue to grow in 2021.

3D sensing types and working principles 

According to different working principles, VCSEL components in 3D sensing applications can be roughly divided into the following two categories: (1) structured light that actively projects a specific pattern light source and detects light changes; (2) active projection light source, And calculate the flight time gap (Time of Flight, ToF).

The above two sensing modes require the use of IR emitters made of VCSEL components, as well as other mechanisms such as RGB camera modules and photosensitive components, and additional high-precision algorithms are required to form independent 3D sensing imaging method. Due to individual differences in imaging principles and algorithms, the measurement range and accuracy of structured light and ToF are also slightly different. Structured light is suitable for the detection of objects within 10 meters, and can obtain excellent accuracy in close range (0.01~1mm); as for the ToF part, its measurement range is relatively far, and the maximum distance can reach 100 meters However, the nearest detection distance is only a centimeter level, which is slightly inferior to structured light.

In addition, among the interference variables, both have little effect on illumination and topography changes, but structured light is easily interfered by reflections, and ToF is prone to multiple reflections, which may cause misjudgment. On the whole, the difference in sensing types between structured light and ToF drives the main target markets and application scenarios to be slightly different, but at this stage, most product applications are still in the development stage. 

On the whole, due to the current 3D sensing of VCSEL components, except for most scenes such as ToF mobile phone remote ranging and wearer switching, and some structured light methods for face recognition and security functions, the remaining application areas are still in The selection of two technologies and the development stage of a small amount of verification. 

Regarding the application development of structured light and ToF, although they have launched different usage scenarios at this stage, most products still have problems such as functional development and algorithms to be solved, and subsequent development trends remain to be seen.

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