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Apple's use of lidar is a sign of the 3D sensing boom to come. How to play it

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Key Points
  • Last year, Apple started including advanced 3D sensors in its high-end iPhones and iPads.
  • One company that helps make it happen is Lumentum, which makes a kind of chip that emits lasers.
  • Technologists see 3D sensing as a critical part of developing sophisticated robots and immersive virtual and augmented reality headsets.
Wide angle, ultra wide angle and new Lidar sensor on the iPad Pro.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Last year, Apple started including advanced 3D sensors that can accurately measure how far away objects are in its high-end iPhones and iPad, and now millions are out in the world. The iPhone 12 Pro cameras use 3D sensors called lidar to focus more quickly and to execute fun filters and photo effects.

One company that helps make it happen is Lumentum, a San Jose company with a market cap of about $7.3 billion. Lumentum's shares have risen more than 20% over the past year, and as much as 40% before they dropped earlier this week on news of an acquisition.

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