Micro OLED


Micro OLED vs. Micro LED: Comparing AR Display Technologies

Apple has unveiled its long-awaited MR device, “Vision Pro,” which provides a clearer perspective on the potential and applications of AR devices. Despite not being as bulky as VR devices, Vision Pro still has a way to go before reaching the ideal form of AR glasses.

Apple’s Vision Pro utilizes Micro OLED technology and can display facial expressions on the outer screen. The industry anticipates that as AR technology evolves, a transition from Micro OLED to the equally next-gen Micro LED could make AR devices lightweight and more like glasses.

However, the question remains: what advantages does Micro LED bring to AR technology? Why did Apple opt for Micro OLED initially? And are there other display technologies suitable for AR applications?

AR devices: Striking a Balance between Ideal and Reality

In reality, achieving the truly ideal AR product might be premature given current technology. Most AR functional products strictly employ video see-through (VST) technology, where cameras capture real-world scenes, and computational and computer graphic techniques combine to display them on opaque screens.

The ideal is optical see-through (OST) technology, where users perceive the real world through a semi-transparent optical combiner in front of their eyes, coupled with projections onto the user’s eyes, merging the real and virtual worlds.

TrendForce discloses that ideal see-through smart glasses must meet three criteria: firstly, the display light engine must be compact, around 1 inch or smaller, to minimize the glasses’ wearing burden. Secondly, in terms of content recognition requirements, the display brightness specifications should reach at least 4,000 nits to ensure resistance to external factors like weather and environment. Lastly, the resolution must be at least 3,000 PPI for clear projected images.

Industry experts note that see-through AR glasses’ main scenarios are outdoors and on the move. These scenarios require consideration of outdoor weather and brightness, particularly as current waveguide lens efficiency is low, around 0.1-1%, causing substantial light loss. Generally, AR display brightness must exceed 1 million, even 10 million nits.

AR Glasses Development: Which Display Technology Holds the Edge?

Mainstream display technologies for AR glasses include PM(Passive Matrix) micro-display technology, AM(Active Matrix) micro-display technology, and scanning display technology.

PM micro-display technology encompasses LCD, LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), and DLP (Digital Light Processing) technologies, requiring RGB LED or RGB laser light sources. While mature, they tend to have larger light engines compared to other technologies.

AM micro-display technology includes Micro OLED and Micro LED. Micro OLED features self-emission properties but struggles with brightness. Micro LED outperforms Micro OLED in contrast, lifespan, and power efficiency, but integrating RGB remains challenging.

Scanning display technology (LBS) employs RGB lasers and MEMS for scanning imaging but might lead to speckle.

Analysis of Micro OLED, Micro LED, LCOS, and LBS Technologies

  • Micro OLED: Suited for VR/MR devices, but brightness is a limitation

Apple’s Vision Pro uses Micro OLED technology, but its organic light-emitting characteristics result in lower brightness compared to Micro LED, LBS, LCOS, and DLP.

Despite efforts to enhance brightness through different layers, pattern adjustments, and phosphorescent materials, increasing brightness shortens organic material lifespan. Sony remains a key Micro OLED provider, but but recent reports indicate that LGD (LG Display) has joined Apple’s Vision Pro Micro OLED supply chain, potentially boosting production and reducing costs.

  • Micro LED: Strongest contender for AR applications but faces technological challenges

Micro LED excels in PPI, brightness, contrast, and light engine size. However, its technological maturity is a major concern. Micro LED AR glasses predominantly display monochrome images due to colorization barriers. Achieving high resolution requires chip scaling, with Micro LED sizes shrinking to 5um. Challenges include uniform wavelength distribution and external quantum efficiency for red LEDs.

  • LCOS: Mature but high power consumption and low contrast limit development

LCOS is a common AR device display technology with low cost and broad color gamut. Its reflective nature achieves high brightness, up to 40% light utilization, and increased resolution as semiconductor processes refine. However, it suffers from low contrast and requires a polarizing beam splitter (PBS), hindering downsizing.

  • LBS: Small light engine rivaling Micro LED, but technology remains nascent

LBS employs RGB lasers as light sources, via optical element calibration and MEMS image scanning. Light then couples into waveguides. LBS offers high brightness, low power consumption, pure color, and high contrast. However, laser-induced speckle is possible. Ams OSRAM developed an RGB integrated laser with MEMS, shrinking the light engine to under 1cc.

Key Hurdle in AR Glasses Technology: Light Engine Size

Light engine size is pivotal for lightweight AR glasses. To achieve a near-normal glasses form factor, the light engine must be around 1cc or smaller, becoming an industry consensus.

For full-color light engines to reach this target, only LBS, Micro OLED, and Micro LED have opportunities. Micro LED’s pixel size, light efficiency, and brightness outperform Micro OLED, making it the preferred choice for light engines.

However, TrendForce states that while Micro LED’s technology maturity is evolving, challenges remain with red LED external quantum efficiency, micro display size, and FOV issues. Additionally, long-term wear and sensor integration for data transmission and processing pose further challenges.

(Photo credit: Apple)


Apple’s Impact on Micro LED’s Path and the Approaching Era of Game-Changing Applications

When Apple unveiled its inaugural wearable device, the Vision Pro, in June this year, CEO Tim Cook remarked, “Apple Vision Pro introduces us to spatial computing.”

The era of spatial computing entails redefining how users interact with digital content within the context of the real world. Apple’s ambition extends beyond mere immersive entertainment, aiming to seamlessly integrate personal computers and smartphones into everyday life and work scenarios, replicating the success it achieved in personal and mobile computing.

The launch of the Vision Pro has once again thrust new display technologies into the industry spotlight. Although the Vision Pro employs Micro OLED, the potential to achieve a portable, outdoor-capable mixed-reality headset rests on Micro LED, seen as the most promising option.

“Micro LED demonstrates balanced performance beyond average levels in terms of brightness, energy consumption, pixel density (Pixel per Inch, PPI), and optical module size,” noted Eric Chiou, Senior Research Vice President at TrendForce. He further emphasized Micro LED’s potential in the development of AR devices, stating, “This also explains why Meta, Google, and MIT are continuously evaluating and assisting in the development of Micro LED technology.”

The application potential of Micro LED in AR devices is evident from the number of companies investing in its development.

In the first half of 2023 alone, six companies—Raysolve, Porotech, Sitan, Kopin, GoerOptics, JBD—announced progress in the development of Micro LED micro-display products. Additionally, two AR glasses manufacturers, Rayneo Innovation and Nubia, unveiled products featuring Micro LED chips.

Certainly, Micro LED’s implementation is not confined to AR eyewear; it is making inroads into the realm of wearables, particularly in the form of smartwatches. Soon, consumers will find the first commercially available watch featuring a Micro LED screen on the market. Tag Heuer, a luxury watch brand, is leading the way with support from AU Optronics for Micro LED panels.

Anticipation mounts for an Apple Watch featuring a Micro LED screen, with rumors circulating consistently. According to earlier information from TrendForce, the release of the Micro LED version of the Apple Watch, originally projected for the second half of 2025, has been delayed to the first quarter of 2026. Initial reports suggested the supply of Micro LED chips would come from Epistar and Osram and that Apple would handle mass transfer at its Longtan facility. Recent reports, however, suggest that Apple might entrust mass transfer and subsequent work to its long-term collaborator, LG Display (LGD).

It’s rumored that LGD has visited Apple’s Longtan facility, indicating a potential handover of equipment to LGD, facilitating smooth mass transfer and back-end processes. Despite shifts in the supply chain, this alteration underscores Apple’s commitment to advancing the Micro LED version of the watch into mass production, with wearables continuing to play a pivotal role in the practical implementation of Micro LED.

The industry’s technological development and investment in wearables, particularly watches and AR glasses, demonstrate a shift towards small-sized sectors represented by headsets and wearables. This indicates that Micro LED is edging closer to large-scale commercialization and breakthrough applications.

Regarding the commercial development of Micro LED, the launch of large-sized products remains a critical indicator. Korean giants Samsung and LGD are pivotal players in this regard. Following Samsung’s introduction of the high-end 110-inch Micro LED TV, LGD’s plans to release a 136-inch Micro LED TV in 2024 have surfaced. Factoring in Samsung’s and LGD’s entries, a total of five companies, including AUO, BOE, and SmartKem, have announced developments in Micro LED display technology in 2023.

Considering the market trends mentioned above, based on TrendForce’s projections, the production value of Micro LED chips is expected to reach $27 million in 2023, showing a 92% annual growth. Looking ahead, driven by the expansion of current application shipments and the introduction of new use cases, the estimated chip production value is set to hit $580 million by 2027. This anticipates a compound annual growth rate of 136% from 2022 to 2027.

TrendForce is set to host the “Micro LED Forum 2023”on September 5th, from 9:30 to 17:00 at the NTUH International Convention Center. The forum has invited TrendForce’s Senior Research Vice President, Eric Chiou, alongside industry representatives from Mojo Vision, ITRI, Lumus, Unikorn Semiconductor, Porotech, Nitride Semiconductor, Tohoku University, Coherent, InZiv, AUO, and Tianma to share developments in Micro LED technology and its manifold applications.

(Photo credit: Samsung)


A Comprehensive Overview of Global Micro OLED Manufacturers

With the release of Apple’s Vision Pro, its Micro OLED display technology has caught the attention of more people. In fact, global Micro OLED display manufacturers have been working in this field for many years. In recent years, Chinese manufacturers have been particularly active in this area. TrendForce has compiled the recent global manufacturers’ product and technological advancements in this article.


Founded in 1996 and headquartered in New York, eMagin Corporation is a leading enterprise in Micro OLED display technology, serving world-class clients in the military, consumer, medical, and industrial markets. Since 2001, eMagin’s micro-displays have been used in AR/VR, aircraft cockpits, heads-up display systems, thermal imagers, night vision goggles, future weapon systems, and various other applications. In May 2023, eMagin announced its final merger agreement with Samsung Display, with Samsung acquiring eMagin for $218 million.


Sony began developing the foundational display technology for Micro OLED in 2009, with the aim of applying it to electronic viewfinders for cameras.

In June 2023, Apple released the Vision Pro, featuring two Sony Micro OLED displays with a size of 1.42 inches, a resolution of 3648×3144, a pixel density of 3391ppi, and a module brightness of up to 6000 nits. It has been reported that this high-spec Micro OLED screen is also priced high, with a single screen costing $350, and its production capacity is limited.


MICROOLED was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Grenoble, France. The company is dedicated to the development and manufacturing of high-resolution Micro OLED micro-displays. In January 2012, MICROOLED introduced its first 0.61-inch micro-display with 5.4 million pixels. In August 2012, STMicroelectronics invested 6 million euros in MICROOLED, and the two companies initiated collaborative development work. In 2015, MICROOLED announced that it had sold over 150,000 0.38-inch WVGA micro-displays. In 2020, MICROOLED announced a funding of 8 million euros to accelerate the development of consumer-grade AR solutions.


Kopin Corporation was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts. Since 1990, the company has been providing LCD, LCoS, and OLED micro-displays for military, enterprise, industrial, medical, and consumer wearable products. In March 2023, Kopin announced significant progress in the Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS) project for the F-35 fighter jet, completing performance tests for OLED micro-displays.

Kopin has also been involved in the establishment of Chinese Micro OLED manufacturers, such as Kunming O-Film (now renamed “Yunnan Visionox Opto-Electronic Technology Co., Ltd.”) and Lakefield Optoelectronics.


In August 2017, BOE announced a joint investment of 1.15 billion RMB to establish Kunming BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd. (now renamed “Yunnan Invensight Optoelectronics Technology”). The company is engaged in the production, sales, and research and development of OLED micro-displays.

BOE announced further investment of 3.4 billion RMB for the construction of a 12-inch OLED micro-display production line to meet the demand of the high-end AR/VR market in December 2019. The designed capacity is 10k wafers per month, with main products including 0.99-inch and 1.31-inch OLED micro-displays.

In March 2021, BOE disclosed on the investor interaction platform that the 8-inch silicon-based Micro OLED production line of Yunnan Invensight Optoelectronics Technology had achieved mass production in August 2019 and is currently ramping up production. The newly established 12-inch Micro OLED production line will be completed in three phases and is expected to be fully completed in January 2024, with a designed annual capacity of 5.23 million wafers.

In May 2023, BOE unveiled its 1.3-inch 4K (3552×3840) Micro OLED display at SID Display Week.

Seeya Technology

Seeya Technology was founded in October 2016 and focuses on the research and production of 12-inch silicon-based OLED micro-display. In 2022, DJI released the Goggles 2, the world’s first consumer-grade FPV goggles utilizing Micro OLED screens, which features Seeya’s 0.49-inch 1920×1080 Micro OLED micro-display.

Lakeside Optoelectronics

Lakeside Optoelectronics was established in April 2017. In May 2023, Lakeside Optoelectronics announced a partnership with Panasonic. Prior to this, Lakeside Optoelectronics had established long-term strategic partnerships with Panasonic and US-based Lighting Silicon Corporation. Panasonic’s next-generation smart VR glasses, MeganeX, will incorporate Lakeside Optoelectronics’ third-generation Micro OLED display. The product is expected to be launched in 2023.

Samsung Display

In early 2022, Samsung Display announced that it was developing Micro OLED displays, with the project in its early development stage. The company planned to start building its first production line in 2023, begin mass production of Micro OLED displays in 2024, and expand capacity in 2025 for full commercialization by 2026.

In December 2022, South Korean media reported that Samsung had started ordering equipment for a 300mm pilot production line, with SFA Engineering and AP Systems as the equipment suppliers. The production line will be located in Samsung’s A2 factory in Asan, South Korea. Samsung aims to receive the first equipment in the first quarter of 2023 and start volume production by the end of 2023, with a monthly capacity of 6,400 wafers. The production line is expected to be fully operational in 2024.

In May 2023, eMagin announced the final merger agreement with Samsung Display. Samsung Display will acquire eMagin for a price of $218 million.

LG Display

In February 2023, it was reported by South Korean media that Meta would collaborate with SK Hynix and LG Display to develop Micro OLEDs for AR/VR headsets. Meta would primarily handle semiconductor design, SK Hynix would be responsible for wafer production, and LG Display would complete the OLED deposition on wafers and perform the final step of cutting them into Micro OLED panels.

It was mentioned that SK Hynix’s Icheon headquarters in Gyeonggi Province has three DRAM production lines: M10, M14, and M16. The production line designated for Micro OLED wafer production is the M10 line, which uses 12-inch wafers as the standard and has a monthly production capacity of 100,000 wafers. If product development proceeds smoothly, they plan to start producing 30,000 wafers per month from 2025-2026. Additionally, the team is expected to utilize 28nm or 45nm nodes for Micro OLED wafer production.


Epson has been conducting research on OLED-related technologies for nearly 20 years and has released several smart glasses equipped with Epson Micro OLEDs. Epson’s VM-40 AR optical module features a 0.453-inch 1920 x 1080 Micro OLED display.

(Photo credit: Apple)


Decoding Apple’s Display Choice: Micro OLED Triumphs over Micro LED in Vision Pro

Apple’s latest MR device, the “Vision Pro,” utilizes Micro OLED technology. This technology, along with Micro LED, is considered the next generation of display technology. So what are the differences between Micro OLED and Micro LED, and which one is better suited for AR/VR/MR devices?

According to market research firm TrendForce, ideal smart glasses must meet three major criteria. Firstly, to minimize the burden of wearing glasses, the display engine’s size should be below 1 inch. Secondly, in terms of content recognition requirements, the display brightness specification should reach at least 4,000 nits to ensure immunity to external factors such as weather or venue conditions. Lastly, the resolution should be at least 3,000 PPI to ensure clear projection and magnification.

Currently, Micro LED and Micro OLED are the primary technologies that meet these requirements. However, Micro LED is still in the early stages of AR technology development and faces several challenges that need to be overcome. Therefore, Micro OLED is currently the mainstream technology in the field.

Micro OLED technology enables full-color capabilities and has become the preferred choice for AR/VR manufacturers. According to TrendForce’s comparison of display engines, Micro LED outperforms Micro OLED in pixel size, luminous efficiency, and brightness. It appears to be the most suitable for AR glasses based on specifications. However, Micro LED is currently limited to a single green color, while Micro OLED can achieve full color. As a result, Micro OLED has a competitive advantage in AR/VR devices.

In terms of manufacturers, Sony remains the main supplier for Micro OLED technology. Due to their longer investment time and technological advantages, South Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG Display (LGD) are expected to join Apple’s MR supply chain in 2024.

Last year, reports suggested that Samsung initially considered Micro OLED a niche market and lagged behind its competitor, LGD. However, due to demands from Apple, Meta, and Samsung’s parent company, they began developing Micro OLED in the third quarter of last year. The latest news reveals that Samsung will acquire American Micro OLED display manufacturer eMagin for a price of $218 million.

Meanwhile, Meta will also collaborate with South Korean semiconductor giants SK hynix and LGD to develop Micro OLED panels for Meta XR (Extended Reality) devices. This partnership is expected to lead to more Micro OLED applications in AR/VR in the future.

Micro LED technology is still facing bottlenecks, but it has the potential to surpass Micro OLED in the medium to long term. TrendForce states that Micro LED AR glasses, due to the bottleneck in achieving full colorization, primarily display monochromatic information such as informational prompts, navigation, translation, and note-taking functions. Achieving higher resolutions requires chip miniaturization, reducing the size of Micro LED to 5 micrometers. In this situation, epitaxial processes are affected by wavelength uniformity issues, which impact yield. Additionally, smaller chips raise concerns about the external quantum efficiency (EQE) of red chips.

Overall, although Micro LED faces many challenges in AR glasses, it still outperforms Micro OLED in contrast, responsiveness, lifespan, power consumption, and other specifications. Considering the limitations of waveguide component technology in transparent AR glasses, which restricts optical efficiency from exceeding 1%, Micro LED remains an excellent choice in the medium to long term.

Therefore, if Apple wants to introduce Micro LED technology, it plans to start with the Apple Watch. However, the project’s launch has been delayed from 2024 to a later date, possibly beyond 2025, due to technological bottlenecks. In fact, over the past decade, Apple has invested significant funds in collaboration with ams Osram to develop Micro LED components. Once the technology is ready for mass production, Apple is likely to take charge of the critical “mass transfer” process, which may be carried out at its secret research and development center in Longtan, Taoyuan.

It’s worth noting that in addition to Micro LED, the Longtan research and development center is also where Apple collaborates with TSMC on Micro OLED technology for MR devices.

(Photo credit: Apple)

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