Google Acquired A MicroLED Display Company That Could Make AR Headsets Better
Google has acquired Raxium, a five-year-old startup with MicroLED technology that could be pivotal in building a new generation of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality headsets. The acquisition was confirmed by Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh.
MicroLED tech could be useful for building AR displays that are more energy-efficient than other solutions, while still remaining colorful, according to reports from The Information last month. Raxium is also working on "monolithic integration" for MicroLEDs, which The Information reports would mean manufacturing them out of the same kind of silicon used for most processors, potentially scaling down the price significantly.
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Various other companies have already been working on MicroLED AR hardware. This includes Oppo, Apple, and Vuzix. In particular, Microsoft has already offered an augmented reality device with HoloLens, while Apple, Meta, Snap, and others are reportedly funding heavily to create their own hardware that can overlay information and images on top of the real world.
On Raxium's website, it was explained that a Super AMOLED screen on your phone has a pixel pitch (the distance between the center of one pixel, and the center of another pixel next to it) of about 50 microns; its MicroLED could manage around 3.5 microns. It also boasts of "unprecedented efficiency" that's more than five times better than any world record.
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In his blog post, Osterloh highlighted both the size and efficiency of the future display technologies Raxium might build. He said the company will join Google's Devices & Services team, and that its "technical expertise in this area will play a key role as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts."
The multinational tech company has been making several leading AR decisions in recent years. In 2020, Google acquired the smart glasses maker North, and presently, is reported to be hiring engineers to build an augmented reality operating system. Just this January, Google Labs revealed that they are building an AR headset called "Project Iris," under the same management as the Project Starline high-res video chat demo shown during its I/O event the year prior.