5 February 2020
Plessey and WaveOptics partner on micro-LED display technology for smart glasses
At Photonics West 2020 in San Francisco, CA, USA (4-6 February), UK-based Plessey, which develops embedded micro-LED technology for augmented-reality and mixed-reality (AR/MR) display applications, has announced a partnership with WaveOptics Ltd of Milton, Abingdon, UK, a designer and manufacturer of diffractive waveguides founded in 2014.
The partnership will focus on creating a new optical module, designed specifically for the next generation of smart glasses. The module will incorporate Plessey’s high-brightness micro-LED native-green full-HD display along with WaveOptics’ latest waveguide technology Katana (unveiled at Photonics West) and projector design. Critically, the module aims to be the smallest and lowest-mass AR display module on the market. The full-HD micro-LED display from Plessey is the result of its partnership with Compound Photonics (announced in October) to combine Plessey’s gallium nitride/silicon (GaN/Si) micro-LED display technology with Compound Photonics’ digital low-latency backplane and high-performance NOVA display driver architecture.
The next generation of AR and MR systems depends on a technological leap in the performance of the optical module, says Plessey. Advances in image quality, brightness, resolution and efficient power consumption are sought to make these new AR and MR systems a compelling practical and visual experience. The collaboration between Plessey and WaveOptics aims to deliver the necessary innovation by bringing together Plessey’s GaN/Si micro-LED display technology and WaveOptics new-generation waveguide technology and projector design.
The substantial reduction in size and power requirements in this module enables enhanced features such as wireless transceivers for true, untethered AR applications, which are key for technology and mobile companies looking to launch smart glasses as a mobile accessory.
“This partnership will create a new product opportunity for companies building AR wearables,” says WaveOptics’ CEO David Hayes. “For the first time, customers will be able to buy the lightest, ultra-low-power module which combines the unique combination of WaveOptics and Plessey technologies. This is a crucial development to enable this technology to reach the consumer market in 2020,” he adds.
“Our partnership with WaveOptics is a significant endorsement of Plessey’s GaN-on-silicon micro-LED approach,” states Mike Lee, Plessey’s president of corporate and business development. “Our micro-LED displays are recognized as being at the forefront in delivering the high-performance display panels demanded by AR and MR devices.”
AR headsets that allow the user to seamlessly transition between the bright outdoors to darker indoor environments require a display technology that can deliver both very high brightness and low power consumption for long battery life. Plessey says that its displays with WaveOptics technology can meet the challenge of this demanding requirement.