Apple Reportedly Reduced Face ID Accuracy to Speed Up iPhone X Production

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Several reports in recent months have covered Apple's struggle to ensure significant components for the upcoming iPhone X can be produced in large enough quantities to meet demand, with the main culprit being the 3D sensing modules that power the phone's TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology. In a surprise development, a new Bloomberg report today claims that Apple overcame its production challenges by quietly telling suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face recognition technology to make the iPhone X easier to manufacture.

    Apple's production struggles have centered on the complex 3D sensor, which consists of a dot projector, flood illuminator, and infrared camera. The flood illuminator beams infrared light, which the camera uses to establish the presence of a face. The projector then flashes 30,000 dots onto the face which the phone uses to decide whether to unlock the home screen. Specifically, Apple has had trouble making enough of the fragile modules that combine to make up the dot projector, as Bloomberg reports:

    The fragility of the components reportedly created problems for Apple suppliers LG Innotek and Sharp. At one point, only about 20 percent of the dot projectors the two companies produced were usable, according to a person familiar with the manufacturing process. The suppliers therefore slowed production in an effort to prevent breakages but lowered the required level of precision to compensate - a decision apparently mandated by Apple.
    It's not clear how much the new specs will reduce the technology's efficacy, and Apple has declined to comment. However, as the report notes, a downgraded Face ID will probably still be far more accurate than Touch ID, where the odds of someone other than the owner of a phone being able to unlock it are one in 50,000. Even so, Apple is famously demanding on suppliers and manufacturers to help it make technological leaps and retain a competitive edge, which makes this story about the company choosing to downgrade the accuracy of Face ID all the more surprising, regardless of whether real-world functionality remains unaffected.

    The delicacy involved in this production challenge has reportedly been further hampered by Apple losing one of its laser suppliers early on. The dot projector uses something called a vertical cavity surface-emitting laser, or VCSEL. The laser beams light through a lens known as a wafer-level optic, which focuses it into the 30,000 points of infra-red light projected onto the user's face. According to the report, California-based Finisar failed to meet Apple's laser specifications in time for the start of production, and now the company is racing to meet the standards by the end of October. That has left Apple reliant on fewer laser suppliers than it originally expected.

    As it stands however, Apple appears to have overcome the biggest production hurdles. Sharp is reportedly working to bring the production yield for dot projectors above 50 percent, while LG Innotek has already surpassed that level, which both companies are said to consider acceptable. As a result the 3D sensor shortage is expected to end in early 2018, according to the report.

    KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will have two to three million handsets available on launch day and 25 million to 30 million units for the holiday quarter, down from his previous forecast of 40 million. Pre-orders for the iPhone X begin this Friday, October 27 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple has said there will also be some stock of the smartphone for walk-in customers arriving early to its retail locations on November 3, the official iPhone X launch day.

    Article Link: Apple Reportedly Reduced Face ID Accuracy to Speed Up iPhone X Production
  2. SethBoy macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2007
    Right, and in tomorrow’s news, Apple will replace the notch with a fingerprint sensor to speed up production. :rolleyes:
  3. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030


    Jun 12, 2011
    Quantity over Quality. Making it on time over Making it right. The new Apple way. Just look at iOS 11.
  4. Howyalikdemapls macrumors 6502a

    Sep 2, 2013
    I have a hard time believing this, but I suppose we’ll wait to see if Apple responds.
  5. Swampthing Suspended


    Mar 5, 2004
    I can already see it now. Next year please buy our new iPhone with enhanced facial recognition!
  6. Jarman74 macrumors regular


    Mar 22, 2009
    If true, this is a glaring mistake Apple will come to regret. When you cave in and compromise on your company ethos, you lose your edge over the competition and you are not Apple anymore: you are another Samsung.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 25, 2017 ---
    The Bloomberg article says that Apple declined to comment.
  7. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    Don't believe everything you read.

    - Steve Jobs
  8. Beeplance macrumors 68000


    Jul 29, 2012
    Sounds like compromising the quality of a $1000 product to me... Insane how Apple choose to do this in a rush to meet demand instead of rolling out quality units at a slower pace.
  9. Lone Deranger macrumors 68000

    Lone Deranger

    Apr 23, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    "Reduced accuracy". If true, it's not really what you want to hear from a $1000+ gadget. How about you reduce your prices along with it, Apple!
  10. mdellepi macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2015
    As I said in another thread, it sounds strange that Apple order was to "reduce FaceID accuracy", since, production-wise, there is no such a thing as "FaceID", but there are many components that contribute to it.
    What they probably did was to change the accuracy requirements for one or more of the sensors involved in the technology. We don't know how this will affect the final system. As far as we know, an improvement in the machine learning software could compensate for the less precise sensors...
  11. dannys1 macrumors 68020


    Sep 19, 2007
    If you live in the UK you definitely shouldn't order an iPhone X, definitely wait. DO NOT ORDER ON LAUCH. Especially a 256gb White, it'll be rubbish, do not order. Don't bother. You don't need it.
  12. mmm1345 Suspended


    Aug 8, 2017
    A company reduces the accuracy of their key feature just to be able to up their production? I don't believe this for a second. It would be utterly stupid if they did this.
  13. Relentless Power, Oct 25, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017

    Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    I question this article and it would not be an accurate reflection of Apples ethic Concerning their products and level of detail. Especially given how Face ID is vastly important to Apple and it's future.
  14. Jsameds macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2008
    Sit back, grab some popcorn and just watch the outrage burst forth from these boards over a product that no one here has actually used or even seen yet.
  15. japanime macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2006
    Quick! Somebody at Macrumors get Ming-Chi Kuo on the line! He'll know if this rumor is true! :D
  16. Vjosullivan macrumors 6502a


    Oct 21, 2013
    "fragile modules that combine to make up the dot projector".

    Don't drop your phone or keep it in your back pocket.
  17. zakarhino macrumors demi-god


    Sep 13, 2014
    Says nothing about accuracy. I may be wrong but it seems like all that Apple did is loosen some of the tolerances of the dot projector? Maybe they’re just accepting more dead ‘dots’ allowed per dot projector? Who knows.
  18. Brookzy macrumors 601


    May 30, 2010
  19. mdellepi macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2015
    Actually I'm not that surprised. The QC requirements in mass production are something that is constantly tweaked and that even MIGHT not have a direct impact on the final user.
  20. Bacillus, Oct 25, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017

    Bacillus Suspended


    Jun 25, 2009
    When security goes from 1:1.000.000 to 1:500.000 I am willing to offer my accordance to Tim
    (but I await Ming-Ciao, if he didn't get choked in noodles on this news)
  21. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    This is just clickbait on Bloomberg's part IMO. Unnamed source said Apple reduces quality.

    Baseless accusations I think. Just trying to get a few ad views from the hype/rumours.
  22. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    eww now this is the last thing I want to hear before spending close to 1200 on a new iPhone.
  23. Mike MA macrumors 68020

    Mike MA

    Sep 21, 2012
    If true, in combination with the overall concerns over the new technology, I assume Apple will not be happy about this leak. For me the response of Apple on this will be essential to see.
  24. GadgetBen macrumors 65816


    Jul 8, 2015
    That's the one I'm going for! I'll race you!

    Get ready at 08:01am this Friday
  25. EightyTwenty macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2015
    So stupid. Should have just used a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone (Apple logo).

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431 October 25, 2017