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MicroOLED will be applied in AR / VR soon, and 2017 will witness a breakthrough in wearable technology
2017/2/16 16:00:06 瀏覽次數:1614

        2017 will mark a turning point of AR & VR wearable products, and the applicability and cost efficiency of OLED micro display which has superior optical design will also be improved compared with 2016.

    More and more evidences have suggested that Apple Inc. will use the OLED display on its iPhone 8, but it is unclear how Apple will enter into and occupy the "iGlass" wearable market.  

       Apple has always hold a conservative attitude towards OLED display technology, while its largest rival Samsung has used the technology in its flagship product Galaxy mobile phone (Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7Ege). Google's new product PixelPhone also uses the OLED display panel, indicating that both GearVR and Google's Daydream (and Oculus) will use OLEDs. According to official introduction of Google, mobile phones supporting DayDream's include Pixel / Pixel XL, Moto Z, Huawei Mate 9 PorscheDesign, Mate 9 Pro, ZTE Axon 7 and ASUS Zenfone AR.



      A possible reason for Apple Inc. holding conservative attitude towards OLED panel is that the production capacity of OLED panel cannot meet huge demands of its flagship products. According to informed sources, Apple Inc. initially ordered 100 million pieces of OLED from Samsung every year. Even so, Samsung may only meet partial demands during busy seasons of 2017. About 75 million iPhone were sold out in busy seasons of 2015, and some analysts estimate that the sales of Apple’s flagship models will reach 90 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

    All of four largest OLED panel manufactures such as Samsung, LG, Sharp (Foxconn) and JDI proactively invested to improve their production capacities and yields as well as reducing costs, aiming to introduce OLED display into the market of large-size TV and smart wearable devices.

   VR devices available in the market include HTC Vive, GearVR, GearVR and Daydream, AR headset Meta 2, all of which are equipped with full-size OLED screens and traditional optical systems, so these devices are too large and heavy.

   In 2017, a new generation of AR and VR equipment will hit the market. OLED display screen with higher pixel per inch which is also known as micro OLED display screen is combined with lens to produce a pair of more fashionable and more stylish glasses. Products using these micro OLED glasses will be more cost-effective and replace expensive AR products using LCOS AR systems (such as Himax, Kopin, Syndiant) (for industrial and professional purposes), and apply Microsoft Hololens and Waveguide (e.g. Lumus- Now supports HTC and Vuzix) as solutions.



      The reasons why Micro-OLED will be popularized rapidly in 2017 are as follows:

      Advantages of OLED:

  • Lower power consumption - no backlight

  • Simpler optical design - no front light source

  • Higher contrast – no external light sources when pixel is off and on

  • Higher resolution (PPI) - compared to LCD

    Disadvantages of OLED (vs LCOS)

  • Brightness - No front and rear light sources (increasing power consumption)

  • Pixel per inch – LCOS has higher pixel per inch

  • Unable to realize waveguide integration (e.g. Hololens uses two-dimensional optical waveguide system)


   Kopin, a leading supplier of Near-Eye-Displays, has announced to launch a new product line which is equipped with OLED micro display. They made breakthrough in OLED, LCD and LCOS (requiring four-dimensional display) technologies.


    Since the production of its first LCD Cyber Display in 1997, Kopin has provided more than 30 million devices (with waveguide headphones) to a wide range of customers, including Nikon, Olympus, Recon, Samsung and Vuzix. Kopin Cyber Display has become the first choice for micro display used for advanced night vision viewer and thermal weapon of military of the United States.



       Cost Factor: A New Business Model

       OLED-on-Silicon display screen newly launched by Kopin is based on two key elements: silicon backplane of OLED pixel driver and OLED light-emitting layer. Instead of adopting traditional manufacturing mode, Kopin creates a business mode of OLED micro display production in the absence of manufacturers by outsourcing the production of these two elements. This business mode is similar to the sensor business and Qualcomm processor business of OmniVision CMOS, possessing core designs but outsourcing mass production and factory construction to the external suppliers. This business mode has main advantage such as mass production without investment of large amount of capitals, and quickly improvement of manufacturing process of two elements and higher potential to rapidly reduce costs of other consumer OLED equipment, thus having higher competiveness in manufacturing and business.

      CEO of Kopin John Fan said “such a flexible business mode makes us believe that this is the right way to minimize the costs of OLED micro display."


Pioneer of AR OLED: EPSON

      EPSON was the first to manufacture AR OLED head-mounted device BT-300 (720P). BT-300 not only makes EPSON's wearable display products lighter and thinner, but also significantly improves the quality and availability of images. EPSON adopts silicon-based OLED (SiOLED) display technology. The brightness at both ends of screen is higher, with wider color gamut and much higher contrast than Moverio, last generation of LCD product.



Click image to understand the details of EPSON silicon-based OLED (SiOLED) display technology and BT-300.

Competitor of OLED: eMagin

      EMagin has been committed to the development and manufacturing of OLED micro display products since 1993. In 2005, they launched a consumer head-mounted device Z800 3dvisor for the first time, equipped with a micro display helmet which was installed with a SVGA resolution display screen (40 degree field angle).

    In 2007, the author recommended to use eMagin OLED SVGA display screen as viewfinder of SI-2K, SI-3D and 360 degrees VR stereo camera system, and the three products won awards.



    In January 2016, eMagin announced to sign a non-exclusive patent (IP) licensing agreement on its unique 4 MP display technology with an undisclosed company. The company paid upfront patent fees of $1 million and was granted to apply eMagin's 2K x 2K pixel full-color display technology into its head mounted device. 2K display technology is not yet available on eMagin's website

   ODG R9 OLED double 1080P screens

    It is said that ODG is the company that signed a patent licensing agreement with eMagin.


    In the past few weeks, some conceptual videos were released, suggesting that ODG consumer glasses will be equipped with a 4K display (in fact, the double 2K display screens were mistaken as a 4K display screen).

    According to MS Power User, ODG's R9AR glasses use dual 1080P light field transparent lens (instead of 2Kx 2K lens) in 50 degree vertical angle. ODG R9 AR glasses have built-in Android system and ARM processor with independent computing power, so they do not need to connect to PC. In addition, R9 AR glasses are also equipped with many sensors.


    eMagin has put into production of 1080P display, indicating that the next generation of 2K x 2K display will appear, or ODG does not have advantages in cost, user interface and size as well as good timing of putting into market to develop appropriate products to quickly open mass consumer market. China Mobile is one of the cooperative targets of OD, as it is said they hope to cooperate with China Mobile in the news.


SONY, a giant of OLED micro display technology and virtual display

    As a giant in the industry of virtual reality, SONY now occupies 30% share of VR head-mounted equipment market.





    SONY’s PlayStation VR device is 5.7 inches and the resolution of its OLED display screen is 1920 x 1080, and monocular resolution is 60 x 1080. By the contrast, Oculus uses dual 1080 x 1200 resolution display screens.






    Snap enters into the AR industry




    On the evening of Friday, September 23, American local time, Snapchat released the first hardware product- Spectacles sunglasses, and also announced that the company would be renamed as Snap Inc., meaning that Snapchat transformed to a company which not only made profits on software.

Although there had been rumors that Snapchat would release intelligent hardware product, the appearance of Spectacles was earlier than anyone expected. Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses equipped with a camera, which are able to record a video clip as long as 10 seconds and price at $130. The camera uses a 115 degree wide angle lens and thereby having a wider field of vision than ordinary smart phones, closer to the range of human vision. In addition, videos recorded by Spectacles are fan-shaped, more like what watched by human eyes.

Evan Spiegel, co-founder of Snapchat, said that the application of smart glasses Spectacles would exceed that of Snapcha, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    As everyone knows, Snapchat is a sharing App and the company is evaluated to worth $16 billion, and more than 100 million users use the App every day. Users can use the App to take pictures, record videos, add texts and pictures, and send them to their friends, and the video are generally not too long. Spectacles make it easier for users to shoot a short video, which will improve adhesiveness of users and content production.

    According to the British Financial Times reported on November last year, video viewing in Snapchat have increased by 2 times compare with last May, reaching a total of 6 billion times. Facebook announced its daily video viewing reached 8 billion over the same period. Facebook's video viewing data came from both desktop and mobile terminals, while the Snapchat’s video viewing totally came from smartphones.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that 500 million people watched videos through Snapcha's Web site and applications every day, adding that videos would become the most interactive network contents in the next few years."

     As watching video has become the most popular social networking activities, the demands for digital video advertising are huge, so all major social networking companies are competing to expand the business. Fees of video advertising are often higher than those of static pictures or texts, so video advertising will also become an important source of revenue for social networking companies.

     Snapchat’s ambition to create a new generation of social networking platform has also been reflected in some of its new functions such as Stories, which is similar to the Information Flow of Facebook, allowing users not only to share pictures with someone, but also to share them into Stories for public viewing of friends, and these contents are also kept in Stories for 24 hours and then disappear.

     At present, users of Snapchat platform have exceeded 100 million, if 1% users buy glasses, the sales volume will reach $20 million (current unit price is $130). It undoubtedly adds a profitability channel for Snapchat, a company which mainly makes profits on video advertising, and is conducive to its IPO in the near future.


   Watch the video advertising of Snapchat and you will understand. In the future, all video ads on Snapchat will be produced by independent users. As long as designing “playing rules” and adding interesting elements (such as adding a facial expression to food advertising), all Snapchat users will be authors of advertising. These original contents are also advertising, completely eliminating ubiquitous defects in advertising created by advertising planners through painstaking efforts in the attention economy era.

    What if broadcasting these contents live by Snap glasses? It may be the best way to experience such advertising: as long as logging in Snapchat content platform, all content shared by users may become advertising due to playing a filter App fro fun or geolocation, while viewers are not to be disturbed when watching the contents. In addition, Snapchat released this glasses aiming at entering into AR field.

    At the beginning of this year, Snapchat poached AR Engineer Eitan Pilipski from Qualcomm and Mark Dixon from HoloLens team of Microsoft who used to be responsible for recruitment, Mark Dixon’s Linkedin account shows he is working at Snapchat now; and Kelly Nyland who used to work for Parrot AR UAV also joined Snapchat's laboratory "Snap Lab" as marketing director recently. At the same time, in addition to software engineers and content operators, Snapchat also recruits "3D vision engineer" according to its recruitment page. About 1/3 of the 74 positions are for Snap Lab mentioned above.



    Back in 2014, Snapchat acquired a start-up called Vergence Labs, whose product had similar functions to Spectacles. In February 2015, Snapchat set up a computer vision and machine learning team named as Snapchat Research. Enterprises which worked on similar research were mostly technology giants, such as big data and artificial intelligence teams of Facebook and Google, as well as Microsoft's HoloLens.

    As a new investment subsidiary of Alphabet, Google Capital recently privately invested in Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat.




     The investment wasnt made known to the public until Google Capital renamed as Capital G and put Snapchat's logo on its official web site. Foreign media reported that the investing company was an investment subsidiary of Alphabet, and Snap Inc. made no comment.

     The two companies have always been in harmony. In 2013, the rumor said that when Google intended to buy Snapchat with $4 billion, Snapchat just declined the acquisition proposal of the Facebook. Today, although Snapchat has only one data center, it is still the largest user of Google cloud services.

     However, Snap announced to acquire an augmented reality start-up  Israel’s Cimagine Media with 30 to 40 Thousand dollars during Christmas holiday of 2016, and set up a R & D center in the Middle East staffed with original team of the start-up, the only logical speculation was that they would update spectacles into AR device. If they do so, they will inevitably consider the OLED micro display technology.


2017 will witness a breakthrough in AR & VR Technology

     2017 will mark a turning point of AR & VR wearable products, and the applicability and cost efficiency of OLED micro display which has superior optical design will also be improved compared with 2016.







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