TSMC, which has been one of the most prominent partner suppliers for Apple for a while, is working towards developing a high-end micro OLED display technology that will be integrated into the upcoming ‘Apple Glass’ AR headset. Though there are minimal chances of the hardware being integrated in the near future, the technology will find its way to the headset whenever it gets an official launch.
According to a report published in Nikkei, which cited sources who are aware of Apple’s plans, the in-house display enterprise is currently going through the trial production phase. That implies that one should not expect the device to undergo mass production at least in the next couple of years.
Unlike OLED modules and LED panels, which are manufactured using traditional methods and are widely used in portable electronic products, micro-LED technology offers highly efficient performance and premium service in a compact and standardized package. Instead of glass substrates, the displays are integrated onto wafers. This helps in ensuring that the system remains smaller and thinner than traditional displays. Because of these factors, this technology should work very well in augmented reality devices that are meant to be wearable.
One of the sources cited by the publication stated that while panel manufacturers are good at producing large-sized screens, one needs small-sized screens for lightweight and compact devices like augmented reality glasses. The source further added that Apple is likely to get into a partnership with TSMC to work on the technology. The primary reason why Apple has opted for TSMC as its partner is because the latter has a reputation for ultra-small and light devices that are high on quality.
According to reports, the panels that are being tested currently are less than an inch in size and there is a possibility of them being integrated into a waveguide system. Waveguides are normally implemented in AR glasses to derive graphical information from a display source and transmit it to one or multiple display planes placed right in front of the eyes of the user.
TSMC has hugely benefited from its partnership with Apple. One of the most successful and talked about projects of the company has been manufacturing chips like the A-series for Apple that were used to power devices like the iPhone, iPad, and the M1 silicon by Mac.
At the moment, TSMC is doing research and development work for the product in its facilities based in Taiwan. If reports are to be believed, Apple has hired a large number of engineers from AU Optoelectronics, a Taiwanese company, to collaborate with it on this project. As is the case with any other initiative taken by Apple, this project is also being carried out in a highly secretive manner. According to a source, all the individuals working on this project were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements that would prevent them from talking about the project to anybody outside the core team.
Rumors about Apple launching its own AR headset have been going around for some time but the company has not offered any clarification or confirmation on it till now. Reports suggest that Apple will venture into the AR/VR space with the launch of a premium quality that is expected to come out sometime next year. The company, reportedly, is planning to launch the ‘Apple Glass’ in the year 2023.