Apple Glasses, or Apple's rumored pair of mixed reality lenses, might feature exclusive micro OLED displays made in partnership with the company's longtime chip supplier.
According to a new report from Nikkei Asia, Apple and TSMC are collaborating on micro OLED displays, which "are far thinner and smaller" than the OLED panels found on smartphones or TVs. The micro OLED technology also demands less power, making it "more suitable for use" on a wearable device such as AR glasses.
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Not to be confused with the microLED TV technology that's gaining traction in the home entertainment space, micro OLED is built differently than existing LCD or OLED displays. It's designed on ultra-small wafer substrates, rather than glass ones that are favored for bigger screens.
Nikkei's sources said the technology is in the trial production stage and the current prototypes "are less than 1 inch in size," although the report doesn't elaborate whether that measurement applies to thickness.
What this means for the Apple Glasses release date
Creating a new breed of display is no simple task — that's why the sources also said micro OLED will take several years to reach mass production for any Apple hardware.
So where does that put the timeline for Apple Glasses? Well, if Apple is committed to outfitting its first AR glasses with TSMC's micro OLED displays, most release date leaks we've seen so far are probably off-base. Insider intel places the launch date anywhere from Spring 2021 to the end of 2023.
That said, micro OLED could be planned a for a next generation Apple Glass model. The first generation could launch sooner with a modified design like the one in this patent, for example. Nikkei's sources could also have unreliable information. Although the site has established a proven track-record, it's always wise to take Apple Glass rumors with a grain of salt.
The companies are reportedly working out of a secretive facility in Taiwan, where Apple moved at least a portion of its AirPods and Apple Watch production last year. It'd make sense for Apple to test how its AR glasses operate in relation to its headphones and wearables, but that's just my curiosity at work.