Apple’s Head of Chip Design Talks About Face ID Security and More in Israeli Interview

Johny Srouji, Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies at Apple, recently talked about Israel's contributions to Apple products, Face ID security, augmented reality, and more in a wide-ranging interview with Calcalist.

For context, Srouji leads the team responsible for custom silicon and hardware technologies like batteries, storage controllers, and application processors, including the new A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

The interview was published in Hebrew, so the quotes herein are loosely translated to English and may not be perfectly word for word.

Srouji started by complimenting Israel, where he was born and raised, for its significant contributions to Apple products. He said Apple now employs over 900 engineers in Israel, up from a reported 700 or so in 2015.

A few years ago, Apple opened research and development offices in Haifa, north of Tel Aviv, with the facilities serving as the iPhone maker's second-largest R&D operations outside of the United States at the time.

There, a team of engineers are focused on chip design, testing, and engineering, according to Apple's job listings over the years.

"The things we do in Israel are a significant part of every Apple device in the world," said Srouji. He went on to say "the team in Israel is part of this long-term vision of excellence and perfection, so we're here for the long term."

Apple has also acquired several Israeli companies over the years, including PrimeSense, which developed the original Kinect sensor for Xbox. PrimeSense's 3D sensing tech is believed to be at the core of Face ID on the iPhone X.

Apple later scooped up Israeli startup LinX, whose dual-lens camera technologies are likely used in the latest iPhone models. It also bought Israeli flash memory firm Anobit Technologies and facial recognition startup RealFace.

The interview later shifted to Face ID, which Srouji said is "the fastest and most secure" facial recognition system in the industry.

"Take the subject of user attention for identification," said Srouji. "If I am not fully aware of the device—i.e. looking at it with my face directly—there is no detection." He told the interviewer "you have to be happy about it because imagine you have the phone and I go aside and I can create a fake of it."

Srouji also reflected on Apple's new augmented reality platform ARKit. He said Apple is always looking far ahead with its chip designs, with a three-year roadmap leading into 2020. Read the full interview for his complete vision.

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