Raxium, a five-year-old startup business focusing on producing microLED displays for AR and VR applications, has been bought by Google. The specifics of the acquisition are undisclosed, but according to a story from The Information, Google valued Raxium at $1 billion.
MicroLED is similar to OLED in that it does not have a backlight and instead emits light from each pixel. North, a pioneer in human-computer interfaces and intelligent eyewear, was bought two years ago, and the company has created a robust technological basis.
After impressing consumers with the consumer edition of its $1500 Glass, Google just released the second edition of its eye-wearable gadget, Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, which features a better camera, USB-C type interface, and safety frames.
In 2014, the first Google Glass was unveiled to tremendous excitement, and it promised a new, vibrant age for information at $1,500. On the other hand, people felt that technology was not yet ready to become a part of their daily life. There were concerns about safety and health, and the built-in camera had raised privacy and piracy concerns.
Raxium is a five-year-old company that has gained major advancements in augmented reality displays. In an email to CNET, Ross Young, co-founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, stated, “They claim to have reached every good performance for R, G, and B MicroLEDs at very tiny sizes without losing efficiency.” “It’s astonishing enough to get good R, G, and B performance on a single wafer without colour conversion, but accomplishing it at 5um is much more impressive.”
Because of its high pixel density and lack of a backlight, OLED Microdisplays have been regarded as the most excellent solution for AR in transparent displays. However, OLEDs have several limits. Assuming that AR headsets will be worn in solid sunlight, low brightness may be a concern.
MicroLED displays can be considerably brighter than OLED displays. According to Guillaume Chansin, DSCC’s director of display research, this is especially critical for AR intelligent glasses worn outside. “MicroLED shows can produce high resolution, high contrast, and excellent brightness, which is why smart glasses have become a significant investment for tech corporations.
Each pixel in an OLED display has a light source of its own, and the ability to switch on or off as needed. This often results in significant contrast and minimal light leakage on neighbouring pixels. It is black if an OLED pixel is turned off. It’s not simply a deeper shade of black; it’s completely dark. MicroLED accomplishes the same outcomes since its pixels are self-illuminating.
While OLED panels are increasing, their peak brightness levels are still restricted compared to modern LED panels (particularly Samsung’s QLED panels). Brightness influences both, the quality of an image and the usefulness of HDR (High Dynamic Range) material. With an excellent contrast ratio, MicroLED can glow much brighter than OLED. This is up to 30 times brighter than OLED TVs of equivalent quality.
This is due to the inorganic substance (gallium nitride) employed, which allows the individual RGB LED sources to get brighter for more extended periods. When an OLED display gets too bright for an extended period, its organic material degrades. Inorganic material, which has a longer overall lifetime, does not have this problem.
Why did google acquire Raxium?
According to The Verge, Google confirmed its ambitions to produce its AR headset in January. The project’s codename is Project Iris, and Google plans to finish it by 2024.
Other AR headsets from tech giants like Apple and Meta use outward-facing cameras to blend computer images with a video feed of the natural world. Still, Google’s device offers a more immersive and mixed reality experience than existing AR glasses.
Google’s AR glasses, according to rumours, will have similar features as to Apple’s. It looks like a pair of goggles and does not require a tethered connection to an external power source, according to early prototypes built-in Google’s San Francisco Bay Area facility.
Google has a long history with augmented reality.
It was one of the first companies to experiment with a consumer-facing augmented reality gadget, the ill-fated Google Glass, released to developers in 2013 and the general public in 2014. The backlash was swift, garnering users the derogatory epithet “Glassholes.” The glasses included a built-in camera which added to the misery. The times, however, have changed. Because of Google Glass’s success in the business, consumers are now more open to the idea of donning glasses or headsets to experience virtual worlds.
On the other hand, Google Glass finally found a home in the business world. Consumers are increasingly amenable to wearing glasses and headsets and experiencing virtual worlds these days, thanks to the advent of notions like the metaverse.
Recently, Google had bought North Inc., a Canadian innovative eyewear business, in a $180 million transaction in 2020. This gave Google access to North’s technology, which employs a laser projector mounted to the frame of an AR headset to show material to users. That technology might be valuable for any AR headset the company is developing.
The acquisition comes as several major tech companies have said publicly that they intend to enter the augmented and virtual reality industry. Meta, the Facebook parent company that also makes the famous Quest 2 headgear, is working on a new device called Project Cambria (though Mark Zuckerberg believes that comfortable AR glasses won’t be ready for at least another several years).
According to rumours, Apple also works on a mixed-reality headset and augmented reality spectacles. In recent years, both Meta and Apple have undertaken purchases of Augmented Reality firms. In addition, Snapchat has entered the AR world too, including developing its Spectacle glasses and Lens Studio.
Aside from Google, Apple is working on augmented reality or mixed reality headsets shortly. The so-called MR helmet, according to rumours, would cost up to $3,000 (about Rs 2,28,753) and will have Micro OLED panels.
Microsoft now offers the HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset for $3,500. (roughly Rs 2,66,884 in Indian rupees). For $300, you can get the Meta Quest 2 headset. (about Rs 22,875)
Edited by Prakriti Arora