Home Apple’s touchscreen and Face ID chief departs after over 20 years

Apple’s touchscreen and Face ID chief departs after over 20 years

Steve Hotelling, Apple’s senior vice president overseeing the development of touchscreen technology, health sensors, and biometric authentication for iPhone and other devices, is retiring after over 20 years with the company, according to a recent Bloomberg report. The departure comes at a critical juncture as Apple prepares to launch its first AR/VR headset and other products featuring innovative display and sensor systems that Hotelling spearheaded.

Known internally as the “father of the iPhone multi-touch screen”, Hotelling led teams responsible for some of Apple’s most complex integrated hardware and software. This includes the responsive and intuitive touchscreens that define the iPhone experience as well as new biometric sensors like Face ID. “No one was more brilliant than Steve,” said a longtime peer at Apple.

A valuable team member

With hundreds of patents to his name, Hotelling represented Apple in multiple high-stakes trials over iPhone intellectual property, including touchscreen patents that were part of its heated global legal battle against Samsung last decade. Most recently, he was a key witness in an ongoing patent lawsuit brought by medical device maker Masimo Corp. regarding Apple’s development of health sensors.

Hotelling’s responsibilities spanning camera systems, displays, haptics, augmented reality depth-sensing and more are now being handled by multiple VPs reporting to SVP Johny Srouji. This includes Alan Gilchrist overseeing camera hardware and Wei Chen managing certain display projects. However, sources say Hotelling’s departure leaves big shoes to fill when it comes to driving cross-disciplinary technological innovation.

The retirement also comes amid reported struggles for Apple’s hardware technologies group to ship other planned launches like in-house modem chips and microLED displays on schedule – key components towards reducing dependence on external suppliers. With the team racing to debut Apple’s first AR headset next year and integrate cutting-edge technologies into future products, some engineers may be feeling Hotelling’s absence more acutely in the months ahead.

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Radek Zielinski
Tech Journalist

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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