Google bought MicroLED startup Raxium for its AR headset displays

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

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

Image: Raxium

When Information first reported on Google’s purchase of Raxium last month, it noted that MicroLED technology could be useful for building AR displays that are more energy efficient than other solutions, but still look colorful. Additionally, Raxium is working on “monolithic integration” for MicroLED, which Information reports would mean making them with the same type of silicon used for most processors, 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 delivered a HoloLens augmented reality device, while Apple, Meta, Snap and others are investing heavily to create their own hardware that overlays information and images on top of the real world.

According to the Raxium websiteSo, 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, while your MicroLED might handle around 3.5 microns. It also boasts of “unprecedented efficiency” that 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 will 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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