Apple’s latest AirPods 3 still feature an optical in-ear detection mechanism, according to TrendForce’s 2021 Infrared Sensing Market Trend – 3D Sensing, LiDAR, SWIR LED report. Through the integration of PPG (photoplethysmography) technology, the AirPods 3 contain an improved in-ear detection mechanism based on skin-detect sensors that are equipped with four SWIR (short-wave infrared) LED chips that have two different wavelengths, as well as two InGaAs photodiodes. Industry insiders indicate that the AirPods 3’s skin-detect sensors may potentially detect the water content in the wearer’s skin, giving them the ability to differentiate between human skin and other surfaces. TrendForce expects annual AirPods shipment for 2022 to reach 85 million sets, a 3.7% YoY increase.
While the demand for these end-products rises, the relevant suppliers will stand to benefit as a result. Such companies include SWIR LED chip suppliers Epistar and DOWA; InGaAs photodiode suppliers DOWA and II-VI/Finisar; and module assembler USI.
SWIR wavelengths range from 1,050-2,500 nm, which encompasses the optical properties of compounds such as water, sugar, and alcohol. While SWIR technologies gradually mature, and prices begin to reach feasible levels, wearables manufacturers are expected to officially integrate SWIR technologies into their products in 2H21. With improvements in their algorithm, wearables are increasingly likely to feature PPG-based biosensing functions, which can measure not only heart rate and blood oxygen levels, but also other variables including body hydration as well as blood glucose, blood lipid, and blood alcohol levels in the future.
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Apple is set to unveil the successors to its current device lineups at this year’s fall product launch on September 14. Please see below for some of TrendForce‘s latest data pertaining to the global consumer electronics market:
Although the tight supply of certain components due to complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic remains Apple’s primary production-related challenge, iPhone production will unlikely be drastically affected. Total iPhone production for 2021 is expected to reach 229.5 million units, a 15.6% YoY increase, with the upcoming iPhone 13 models accounting for about 37%-39% of Apple’s annual iPhone production. In addition, iPhones are also expected to account for about 77% of total annual production of 5G smartphones in 2021, making them the market leader in this segment and representing a drastic increase from 39% in 2020.
Regarding technical specifications, the Pro model of iPhone 13 is expected to include 1TB storage capacity as an optional upgrade. Other improvements over previous models include the adoption of A15 processors manufactured with TSMC’s 5nm+ process technology. All four iPhone 13 models will feature flexible AMOLED + On-cell designs for their display panels, while the Pro series will also feature a 120Hz refresh rate as well as LTPO technology for reduced power consumption. Furthermore, all four models’ primary cameras will be equipped with sensor shift image stabilization. The Pro model, in particular, will have its ultra-wide camera upgraded to a 6P lens, with the addition of autofocus capability as well. Much like the iPhone 12, LiDAR functionality is available only for the Pro model of the iPhone 13 lineup.
In view of the lackluster sales performances of the iPhone 12 mini, which reached EOL ahead of time, the iPhone 13 mini is expected to account for less than 10% of total iPhone 13 production, since Apple will focus its sales efforts on the other three models. TrendForce indicates that the global economy, markets, and personal incomes are all still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also led to price hikes for electronic components and transportation services, thereby compounding Apple’s difficulties in setting retail prices for the new iPhone models. TrendForce expects Apple to continue the aggressive pricing strategy that it adopted for last year’s models in order to attract smartphone buyers, raise its revenue from services via increased handset sales, and make up for the aggressive prices via increased service revenue.