Micro OLED displays might make Apple’s AR glasses super-thin and light

By

Taeyeon Kim
Coming soon to a face near you?
Photo: Taeyeon Kim

Apple and A-series chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. teamed up to develop “ultra-advanced display technology” at a special facility in Taiwan, a Wednesday report claims.

The Micro OLED displays measure less than 1 inch in size, according to Nikkei Asia. Apple potentially could use the displays for its long-rumored augmented reality glasses.  However, it seems likely it will take “several years” to bring the hardware to market.

Micro OLED is different from micro LED and mini LED displays, which Apple is also said to be investigating. The report notes:

“Micro OLED displays are not built on glass substrates like the conventional LCD screens in smartphones and TVs, or OLED displays used in high-end smartphones. Instead, these new displays are built directly onto wafers — the substrates that semiconductors are fabricated on — allowing for displays that are far thinner and smaller and use less power, making them more suitable for use in wearable AR devices, according to sources familiar with the projects.”

Micro OLED displays could make Apple AR glasses super-thin

The ultimate goal? Super-thin and super-light displays that won’t weigh down the wearer’s head, according to Nikkei Asia:

“Panel players are good at making screens bigger and bigger, but when it comes to thin and light devices like AR glasses, you need a very small screen,” said a source who has direct information on the micro OLED R&D project. “Apple is partnering with TSMC to develop the technology because the chipmaker’s expertise is making things ultra-small and good, while Apple is also leveraging panel experts’ know-how on display technologies.”

Apple reportedly hired “dozens of veterans” from Taiwanese display maker AU Optronics to work on the project. Cupertino also brought in display experts from Japan and elsewhere. As with virtually every project involving Apple, participants must sign secretive nondisclosure agreements.

Apple is heavily rumored to be working on multiple AR and VR display projects. These include a lightweight AR glasses project and a more-traditional VR headset.

Source: Nikkei Asia