A number of commentators and experts have been speculating on what the extent of Apple’s ambitions are when it comes to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Persistent rumours of Apple’s intent to produce a set of AR or VR goggles will no doubt receive a boost with news that the company is among those investing in miniature OLED display manufacturer eMagin.
Apple is one of several investors who have collectively invested up to $10.6 million (USD) in eMagin. Other firms involved include electronics company LG, Stillwater Holdings, and two firms with strong ties to the VR industry, Valve and Immerex. So far, eMagin has only said that the investment capital will be used for ‘corking capital and general corporate purposes’. The company has mostly been involved in the development of OLED miniature displays for use in the industrial, medical and military sectors, such as its night-vision goggles, but has recently been investigating products aimed at the consumer market.
“We believe that a key growth area for us is the consumer electronic OEM market for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) hardware,” eMagin notes in its prospectus. “Our potential channels to this market include licensing of our direct patterning technology and partnering for the mass production of microdisplays.”
The new eMagin display is designed for use in VR headsets, and is said to use a dense ‘line-based’ layout to produce a sharper image than is currently possible with the present generation of pixel-based displays. The company has said that it should be capable of up to 2,500 pixels per inch, which can be compared to an iPhone X, which produces a display og 458 pixels per inch, while Samsung is said to be working on a next-generation display capable of producing 2,000 pixels per inch.
“On the commercial front, we entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities,” eMagin said in a statement.
Whatever Apple’s involvement with VR or AR, any future news and developments will be here on VRFocus.
UPDATE: eMagin have now released a statement indicating that someone somewhere got their wires crossed about what this all meant. And that, in actual fact neither Apple, nor Valve, nor LG have expressed interest – at least to their knowledge.
“eMagin Corporation, or the “Company,” a leader in the development, design and manufacture of Active Matrix OLED microdisplays for high resolution imaging products, today is providing clarification in response to a media report in which the author apparently misconstrued a form underwriting agreement that the Company filed as an exhibit to its S-1 on January 23, 2018 and incorrectly stated that a group of certain consumer electronics companies participated in the recent offering of the Company that closed on January 29,2018. As of today, to the Company’s knowledge, none of these consumer electronics companies have taken part in the offering.”
Obviously, the situation over at eMagin is developing and should there be any further updates we’ll keep you informed.