21 October 2021
Apple Airpods shipments to reach 85 million in 2022
According to TrendForce’s ‘2021 Infrared Sensing Market Trend - 3D Sensing, LiDAR, SWIR LED’ report, through the integration of PPG (photoplethysmography) technology Apple’s latest AirPods 3 contain an improved optical in-ear detection mechanism based on skin-detect sensors equipped with four SWIR (short-wave infrared) LED chips that have two different wavelengths, as well as two indium gallium arsenide (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 shipments to grow by 3.7% year-on-year to 85 million sets in 2022.
While demand for these end-products rises, the suppliers that should hence benefit include SWIR LED chip suppliers Epistar and DOWA; InGaAs photodiode suppliers DOWA and II-VI/Finisar; and module assembler USI.
SWIR wavelengths range over 1050-2500nm, 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 second-half 2021. 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.