Google bought MicroLED startup Raxium for its AR headset displays

Today Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh confirmed that the company has acquired Raxiuma five-year-old startup with MicroLED technology that could play a key role in creating a new generation of augmented, virtual and mixed reality headsets.

It adds to the evidence that Google’s next big AR move is getting closer: it previously acquired eyewear maker North in 2020 and reportedly hired engineers to build an augmented reality operating system. We learned in January that Google Labs was building an AR headset called “Project Iris,” under the same leadership as the high-resolution Project Starline video chat demo shown off at its I/O event last year.

Image: Raxium

When information first reporting on Google’s purchase of Raxium last month, he noted that MicroLED technology could be useful in creating AR displays that are more energy efficient than other solutions, but still colorful. Additionally, Raxium is working on “monolithic integration” for MicroLEDs, which information reports would mean making them from the same type of silicon used for most CPUs, which could bring the price down 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 on top of the real world.

According to the Raxium 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 around 50 microns, while its MicroLED might manage around 3.5 microns. It also boasts of “unprecedented efficiency” which is more than five times better than any world record.

Osterloh referenced both size and efficiency in his blog post about future display technologies Raxium could build. He said the company would join Google’s Devices and 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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