Chris Chinnock, Insight Media
Kopin has announced a new agreement to develop a 2Kx2K full color microLED display in a 1-inch form factor with a 100K nits target. That’s the kind of performance level that many have been saying microLED technology has the potential to achieve, but now there is a clear and public development effort underway to achieve this goal.
It will still take some time to achieve this goal, but the partners clearly believe it is achievable. Kopin did not reveal the development partner other than to say they were a “leading Japanese consumer electronics company,” nor did they reveal the US customer who is funding the program. So, let me do a little speculation.
First, with this level of performance as the target, it seems unlikely this is going to be a consumer-focused application because the device will be costly. Kopin’s customer base is broad spanning consumer, commercial and defense customers, but because the partner is a Japanese company, a defense customer seems unlikely. Therefore, a commercial customer for a heads-up or head-mounted display in an enterprise or avionic applications seems like a reasonable guess.
As to the Japanese CE company, I only know of a few companies interested in AR/VR technology: Sony, Sharp, Canon and Panasonic (I would not consider Kyocera a CE company). Kopin already has a strong relationship with Panasonic to deliver micro-OLEDs for their VR headset, so it is probably one of the other three.
The press release reveals little about the bonding and color conversion technology this CE company will use, but hopefully we can learn more later.
I think it is important to point out that Kopin is developing and supplying the silicon backplane. This backplane expertise is not something to overlook, and in fact, may be its greatest asset. Having designed backplanes for 30 years with all OLED, LCD, F-LCOS and micro-LED technologies means they probably have a storehouse of knowledge that few, if any, can match.
Kopin also pointed out that this micro-LED development effort will not compromise their efforts in micro-OLED displays. I think that is right as micro-OLEDs are here today while micro-LEDs will take some time to fully commercialize. With multiple microdisplay technologies in their portfolio, Kopin can offer a solution that can fit any application scenario.