Apple reportedly cancels contract for quantum dot iPhone camera

Posted:
in iPhone
Last week, shares of Nanoco, a British firm specializing in quantum dot technology, sank nearly 80% on news that a major U.S. customer canceled a project tied to a lucrative supply contract. Reports now claim the unnamed client was Apple.




Without citing sources, The Telegraph reports Apple contracted Nanoco to develop quantum dot (QD) technology for a next-generation iPhone image sensor.

The Manchester-based Nanoco is a specialist in the field of cadmium-free QDs, which are typically used to enhance the picture quality of large-format screens like high-definition televisions. Applied to an iPhone's camera, QDs could theoretically enhance image quality and assist in the rollout of advanced augmented reality features.

QDs are technically nanocrystals made from various semiconductor materials that exhibit special quantum mechanical characteristics. Of interest to display makers, as well as other industries in the optics field, are QDs' light-emitting properties. Specifically, the material can be "tuned," or manufactured, to emit very narrow spectrums of light.

Currently, commercial QD applications are limited to top-level filters. Used in conventional hardware like LED-backlit LCD panels, the dots enable more accurate and efficient representation of certain base colors.

Apple has been actively investigating quantum dot applications since at least 2013, with a recent patent filing outlining a "hybrid" OLED and QD LED display, though the technology has yet to make its way into a shipping device.

Nanoco in 2018 announced a partnership with a "large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation" and in January said it extended the contract to cover stress testing and refinements. According to the report, the agreement was worth 17.1 million pounds ($21.7 million) -- more than half of Nanoco's revenue -- to be paid out over two years, a sum that would allow the firm to expand production facilities in Cheshire.

Last Friday, Nanoco said the U.S. client had canceled the project, triggering a market exodus that saw the company's value plummet from 93 million pounds to 24 million pounds.

Lending credence to the report, market research firm BlueFin Research last week claimed Apple discontinued development of QD image sensors, saying the company found the technology too expensive to mass produce. Instead of QD technology, the iPhone maker is believed to be working on a rear-facing 3D laser mapping system similar to TrueDepth, though the solution is unlikely to debut until 2020 at the earliest.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    stukestuke Posts: 86member
    Quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, graphene...fascinating materials science with nearly impossible materials engineering (at scale and cost for consumer goods).  I hope Nanoco pulls through and finds another market/customer.
    edited June 25 indiekidukjony0
  • Reply 2 of 18
    The density of states of an ideal quantum dot is a Dirac delta function so the energy/frequency of its states are exact.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 201member
    Brings make memories of the GT ADVANCED (GTAT) Sapphire turmoil.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Brings make memories of the GT ADVANCED (GTAT) Sapphire turmoil.
    Maybe not!   This could be a mistake on Apples part.  If successful a QD based sensor could have higher sensitivity so there is good reason to pursue this tech.   Any number of companies could step in here.  
    applesnoranges
  • Reply 5 of 18
    wizard69 said:
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Brings make memories of the GT ADVANCED (GTAT) Sapphire turmoil.
    Maybe not!   This could be a mistake on Apples part.  If successful a QD based sensor could have higher sensitivity so there is good reason to pursue this tech.   Any number of companies could step in here.  
    True, but I take it that Apple did their due diligence and realized that either the tech is not working, or the cost to commercialize is too great. Or perhaps they discovered something with the tech that makes it problematic. There is a reason to pursue many technologies but - the whole 'need to ship' steps in.
    JFC_PAjbdragonStrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 18
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 357member
    The usual doomers are already trumpeting this as a feature “canceled” from the current years coming iPhone’s. 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 7 of 18
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,364member
    Apple have probably got enough information to do it without them now. Another future court case.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 18
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,395unconfirmed, member
    wizard69 said:
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Brings make memories of the GT ADVANCED (GTAT) Sapphire turmoil.
    Maybe not!   This could be a mistake on Apples part.  If successful a QD based sensor could have higher sensitivity so there is good reason to pursue this tech.   Any number of companies could step in here.  
    True, but I take it that Apple did their due diligence and realized that either the tech is not working, or the cost to commercialize is too great. Or perhaps they discovered something with the tech that makes it problematic. There is a reason to pursue many technologies but - the whole 'need to ship' steps in.

    OR, I believe, Apple has found a better solution. 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 18
    ksecksec Posts: 1,566member
    Let's be fair.

    https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/NANO.L/financials?p=NANO.L

    They have been losing money since 2015. 

    I thought they have been doing well as it is used in LG's LCD. and quite a few other QD Display.
  • Reply 10 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Correct me if I am wrong but if "Nanoco in 2018 announced a partnership with a "large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation" and in fact there was no such partnership, rather just some interest, they mislead investors.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 11 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Correct me if I am wrong but if "Nanoco in 2018 announced a partnership with a "large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation" and in fact there was no such partnership, rather just some interest, they mislead investors.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 12 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Sorry Catalina seems to fail to post on AI.  Only after quitting Safari and returning to the blog does the fact it posted twice show up.
    edited June 26 n2itivguy
  • Reply 13 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,997member
    MacPro said:
    Correct me if I am wrong but if "Nanoco in 2018 announced a partnership with a "large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation" and in fact there was no such partnership, rather just some interest, they mislead investors.
    Where's the suggestion that there was no partnership?  Reporting is that Apple cancelled the deal, not that there never was a deal.
    gatorguy1STnTENDERBITSwilliamlondonn2itivguy
  • Reply 14 of 18
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,043member
    stuke said:
    Quantum dots, carbon nanotubes, graphene...fascinating materials science with nearly impossible materials engineering (at scale and cost for consumer goods).  I hope Nanoco pulls through and finds another market/customer.
    Ideas/Theories become prototypes, and some become usable technology.

    For Apple quantum dots (etc) aren’t what they’re looking for today, but who knows about tomorrow...

    Looking back: https://www.factinate.com/things/40-fantastic-facts-science-fiction-became-reality/
  • Reply 15 of 18
    I've come to the conclusion that I've become a crotchety old man.  Why else would I complain about the fact that even though "spectrums" is just as correct, "spectra" sounds, and reads, so much better.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 16 of 18
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,154member
    MacPro said:
    Correct me if I am wrong but if "Nanoco in 2018 announced a partnership with a "large, undisclosed U.S. listed corporation" and in fact there was no such partnership, rather just some interest, they mislead investors.
    I'm leaning more this way. I think they hyped things up a bit. It's Apple after all. If Apple had taken some interest to see if it was something worth wild to get into or not. It looks like it wasn't for Apple. Or they plan to do it themselves and so we'll have a future court case on this.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    kestralkestral Posts: 251member
    Note to small companies: don't be an Apple supplier.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,298member
    wizard69 said:
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Brings make memories of the GT ADVANCED (GTAT) Sapphire turmoil.
    Maybe not!   This could be a mistake on Apples part.  If successful a QD based sensor could have higher sensitivity so there is good reason to pursue this tech.   Any number of companies could step in here.  
    True, but I take it that Apple did their due diligence and realized that either the tech is not working, or the cost to commercialize is too great. Or perhaps they discovered something with the tech that makes it problematic. There is a reason to pursue many technologies but - the whole 'need to ship' steps in.

    OR, I believe, Apple has found a better solution. 
    No! We must always consider that Apple doesn’t know what it’s doing and is making mistakes, which are obvious to we randoms on a rumors site not actually producing anything. 
    JFC_PAwilliamlondon
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