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Google buys start-up Raxium with key technology for AR

Google buys start-up Raxium with key technology for AR
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  • Google makes Raxium acquisition official

Update May 05:

Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh makes the Raxium acquisition official: The MicroLED manufacturer has developed “miniaturized, cost-effective and energy efficient high-resolution displays” over the past five years, laying the foundation for “future display technologies”. Raxium’s expertise, he says, plays a “key role” in future hardware.

The former Raxium employees will become part of Google’s “Devices & Services” team. The mini-displays have potential for compact AR glasses, but could be used in numerous devices. Follow the link for more information on the technical challenges of MicroLEDs.

Source: Google Blog

Article from March 17:

Google has bought startup Raxium, which is researching advanced VR and AR displays.

Founded in Silicon Valley in 2017, Raxium develops what it calls MicroLED displays. The technology enables extremely dense and bright pixel grids with high energy efficiency, making it ideal for VR and AR glasses.

MicroLEDs are not to be confused with micro OLEDs, which also show great potential but are closer to mass production and could become the industry standard in the next few years.

MicroLEDs are still very expensive to manufacture. Since they outperform micro OLEDs in terms of pixel density, brightness, energy consumption and service life, they are being considered as a potential successor to the display technology.

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Google buys XR display startup

The acquisition of the start-up was reported by The Information. The website could not find out the exact purchase price, but estimates it at around one billion US dollars. Google is also reportedly considering further acquisitions in the AR field. The last major investment in the technology was made by the company in 2020 with the purchase of the data glasses manufacturer North.

Earlier this year, The Verge reported that Google is once again stepping up its investment in VR and AR, with Project Iris, a pair of mixed reality glasses in development and scheduled to launch in 2024. The device is apparently a pair of video AR glasses similar to Meta’s Cambria.

Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are also said to be working on similar devices. The acquisition of Raxium shows that Google is serious about the AR project and related projects such as the Starline immersive video booth.

AR technology is in hot demand

With the acquisition, Google secures valuable know-how and a potential key display technology of VR and AR. Competitors like Apple, Meta and Snap made similar acquisitions, some of them quite some time ago.

Apple acquired microLED specialist LuxVue in 2014. Meta secured exclusive rights to MicroLED displays from the manufacturer Plessey in 2020, and Snap recently bought Compound Photonics, which specializes in displays of precisely this type. There are also purchases of startups that make waveguide displays.

The reports of Google’s increased interest in AR were preceded by a restructuring. That, in turn, came shortly after Facebook’s rebranding and realignment, and possibly in response to that, as well as persistent rumors of Apple-branded mixed reality glasses. In the years before, it had become very quiet about Google’s VR and AR strategy and many projects like Daydream VR were cancelled.

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Sources: The Information