Apple has ordered 3D imaging technology from STMicroelectronics slated to be included in a “future iPhone,” iGeneration reports. Sources familiar with the agreement said the 3D imagers are on track to begin production at a plant in Crolles, France as part of a joint collaboration between Apple and STMicroelectronics that began in 2015. Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics, told investors that the company’s recent $1 billion investment in “new products and specialized technologies” was related to “a contract recently taken [which will lead to] substantial revenues expected in the second half of 2017.” Bozotti hasn’t named Apple as its customer, but sources have confirmed that’s the case.
What is still unclear is when the 3D imagers will make their way into an iPhone. Bozotti’s hinting at production not starting until the second half of 2017 adds further fuel to speculation that Apple will have to delay the release of its rumored “iPhone 8” if it wants to include several features (including 3D facial recognition capabilities as many have claimed). But it’s possible that Apple could just scrap its inclusion altogether for the time being, as it did in 2009 with the camera for the third-generation iPod touch after encountering technical difficulties. Despite claims at the time that Apple would delay the release, the company chose instead to just go ahead as planned and wait another year to add the new feature. Apple also bumped cellular connectivity for the latest Apple Watch after that technology proved too challenging to deliver on time.