Google bought MicroLED startup Raxium for its AR headset displays

Today, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh confirmed that the company has acquired Raxium, a five-year-old startup with MicroLED technology that could hold the key to building next-generation augmented, virtual and mixed reality headsets.

This adds to evidence that Google’s next big AR move is getting closer: It previously bought glasses maker North in 2020 and is reportedly hiring engineers to build an augmented reality operating system. In January, we learned that Google Labs is building an AR headset called “Project Iris,” under the same management as the Project Starline high-res video chat demo shown at last year’s I/O event.

Image: Raxium

When The information Google’s Raxium purchase, first reported last month, noted that MicroLED technology could be useful for building AR displays that are more energy-efficient than other solutions, but still look colorful. In addition, Raxium is working on “monolithic integration” for MicroLEDs, which: The information reports would mean they’re manufactured from the same kind of silicon used for most processors, potentially dropping the price significantly. Other companies working on MicroLED AR hardware include Oppo, Apple, and Vuzix.

As for the competition, Microsoft has already shipped an augmented reality device with HoloLens, while Apple, Meta, Snap and others are reportedly investing heavily to create their own hardware that overlays information and images about the real world.

According to Raxium’s website, a Super AMOLED display 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, while the MicroLED could hit about 3.5 microns. . It also boasts “unprecedented efficiency” that is more than five times better than any world record.

Osterloh referred to both size and efficiency in his blog post about the future display technologies Raxium could 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.”

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