Apple's investment in micro LED predicted to lead to future Apple Watch with longer batter...

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Apple's moves in the space, plus supply chain reports both suggest that the upcoming micro LED display technology is an obvious choice for a future Apple Watch -- with recent production equipment breakthroughs suggesting that Apple's purchase of LuxVue in 2014 will bear fruit sooner rather than later.


micro LED, in a nutshell

Inorganic semiconductor micro LED technology was first developed in 2000. It took 11 years for the first small, active micro LED display to be developed at the relatively low resolution as compared to today of 640x480.

A traditional LCD screen is considered transmissive -- individual elements change color, but are at the mercy of assorted backlight technologies for presentation. OLED and micro LED screens are emissive, meaning that each individual pixel is its own light source with brightness being able to be set per pixel.

micro LED uses LEDs for sub-pixels within one pixel, similar to an OLED display. How the red, blue, and green sub-pixels are illuminated determines the color of that pixel.

Also, the technology can be deposited on a flexible film, allowing for curved displays.

Micro LED assembly patent held by Apple
Micro LED assembly patent held by Apple


Pixel-to-pixel, micro LED self-illuminates like OLED, but has lighter power demands, lower latency, higher contrast, and better color saturation. At present, technological issues have prevented wide commercialization of the technology by itself in large form factors with the exception of Sony's "Cledis" modular display solution for enterprise -- but yields of suitable panels and commercial adoption have been very low.

At present, production costs for micro LED exceed that of OLED and quantum dot LED. Defect rates are high with micro LED as well at present, leading to more waste and less ability to use a sheet for a large screen.

Production methods for micro LED need only a bit more refinement in the short term to be ideal for wearable technologies, like the Apple Watch. Larger mass-produced commercial displays like smartphones, tablets, displays, televisions are further down the road.

Apple and LuxVue

In May 2014, Apple acquired micro LED specialist LuxVue, which up to that point was rumored to be the display provider for the ill-fated Google Glass device. When Apple purchased the company, the rumor mill suggested that the technology would be included in what was then expected to be called the iWatch -- which ultimately released as the Apple Watch.

Apple also reportedly set up a laboratory for micro LED research and development in northern Taiwan in April of 2015.

Supply chain monitor Digitimes notes that Aixtron SE has recently debuted the AIX G5+C for micro LED production. The new equipment cuts back defects by nearly 50 percent versus older equipment, and cuts deposition deviance from 3 nanometers, down to 1 nanometer. The new equipment with more accuracy and less waste is probably that push that manufacturers need to profitably generate micro LED screens.

Improvements in deposition accuracy will lead to lesser defect rates -- perhaps not enough for larger uses, but more Apple Watch screens per sheet can be gleaned.

TrendForce's expectations for micro LED adoption
TrendForce's expectations for micro LED adoption


To be clear, there's nothing concrete coming out of the supply chain, and obviously not from Apple at this time talking about it. There is no firmware to dissect to point to it, nor that many sources familiar with the matter talking about it.

However, given the combination of the LuxVue purchase, patents that Apple has accrued regarding the technology, the new production equipment that make mass production theoretically possible for the first time, and the benefits that micro LED would have on an Apple Watch -- the direction seems pretty clear.

What Apple and consumers would get from micro LED

Assuming the price per screen can be kept down, micro LED is an obvious choice for a wearable like the Apple Watch.

From a visible perspective, a micro LED screen's brighter display with different contrast than the current OLED screen would benefit users who use their devices in bright sun -- a use-case that Apple is pushing heavily.

Perhaps more importantly, as compared to the OLED screen in the Apple Watch now, a micro LED screen would have less of an impact on the device. While this may not stretch the power-hungry four-hour LTE time more than six hours, the Apple Watch may not have to charge overnight, and could stretch wear time for notably longer than a day.
Avieshek
«1

Comments

  • Reply 2 of 36
    tipootipoo Posts: 790member
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 
  • Reply 3 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    OLEDs are not particularly efficient. This is something most people don’t understand. They seem efficient, but only because blacks get almost no current moving through these pixels. But when compared to inorganic LEDs, they are positively inefficient. Inorganic LEDs can also run at a higher temperature, making them even more efficient, and have greater lifetimes.
    radarthekattmayRayz2016longpathpatchythepiraterepressthischyang888jony0
  • Reply 4 of 36
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 4,883member

    My guess is that if Apple eek out some batterly life here, they will spend it elsewhere. As they (quite rightly) often do. 

    All you need for any of these devices is to last one day with heavy enough usage, say ending at 40-20% for light or normal use. 

    I acutally ran out of battery more on stupid phones - precisely becuase they lasted 3-4 days I never plugged them in until they warned me, and sometimes I didnt have the power cord when they warned me. So I often ran out of battery on a train etc. 

    With a modern device 1 day is enough. We all plug in at night. 
    edited October 2017 curtis hannahpatchythepiraterandominternetpersonrepressthisbb-15watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 36
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 17,875member
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better
    Some VR/AR uses absolutely benefit from much higher screen resolutions than 300ppi. Apple has moved far beyond that with their latest models, 458ppi with the X, 401ppi for the 8+. You don't think Apple did so just for spec's do you? That old claim of 300ppi as being the perfect screen resolution and anything more being useless was as much marketing as fact.
    patchythepirateAvieshekmuthuk_vanalingamrepressthis1STnTENDERBITSjony0
  • Reply 6 of 36
    I dont think that they will try to improve the battery life with it. It is fine, people usually get through their day with "normal" usage.

    But it will give them the opportunity to make the battery smaller and, surprisingly, make the watch thinner! Finally:)
    repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 36
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,193member
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better?
    PPI matters when you zoom in. Something not known in the Android world but in iOS instant zoom is a common usage pattern.
    Avieshek
  • Reply 8 of 36
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 17,875member
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better?
    PPI matters when you zoom in. Something not known in the Android world but in iOS instant zoom is a common usage pattern.
    On Android it's invoked with a triple-tap of one finger, while iOS is double-tap three fingers, so yes it's a bit different but very similar.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 9 of 36
    netroxnetrox Posts: 533member
    I am still waiting for the day where a display of that resolution and color would not be emissive but simply change color of pixel and we rely on light to illuminate on the display, like e-ink. The e-ink is still limited by low latency and poor color depth.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 1,193member
    gatorguy said:
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better?
    PPI matters when you zoom in. Something not known in the Android world but in iOS instant zoom is a common usage pattern.
    On Android it's invoked with a triple-tap of one finger, while iOS is double-tap three fingers, so yes it's a bit different but very similar.
    Not that. I mean content zoom, images, texts, web pages and alike. Many Android-compatible web pages and apps block the zoom because no-zoom is the default in Android.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 11 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,202member
    I was hoping micro-LED would've come to this year's Watch. So many benefits over OLED.
    repressthis
  • Reply 12 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    gatorguy said:
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better
    Some VR/AR uses absolutely benefit from much higher screen resolutions than 300ppi. Apple has moved far beyond that with their latest models, 458ppi with the X, 401ppi for the 8+. You don't think Apple did so just for spec's do you? That old claim of 300ppi as being the perfect screen resolution and anything more being useless was as much marketing as fact.
    Except that it’s really true that more than 325 ppl for someone with 20/20 vision, holding the phone at a normal distance, is overkill. I read all kinds of nonsense about this. People claiming that phones with 500ppi look sharper, for example. Not true. Then there are those who, without understanding them, quote studies on very high resolution, or “show” that we really can see it. While under special circumstances, we can, it’s not realistic under any normal circumstances.

    i’ve had iPads since the first one. The retina models are just 264ppi. I’ve not yet had a single person see any sharpness difference between one of my iPads and either of my iPhone + series with 400ppi. Not a single person. And that’s viewing both at a phone distance. There is a lot of junk being said about higher resolutions that just not true in a real world situation. Yes, we can see a single black pixel among all white pixels, and a single white pixel among a field of black pixels, but that’s not a real situation 99.99% of the time. Take that one bad pixel, and place it in a situation with differing pixels, and we can’t see it. And that’s on,y below about 350ppi, which is really the highest we need to go, for those with slightly sharper vision.

    but, it’s true that for 3D, we need a phone with higher resolution, because effectively, we’re chopping resolution in half for each eye, and cutting brightness in half too. But that’s a different situation. For that, we do need higher resolution, and brighter screens.
    edited October 2017 bb-15watto_cobrapatchythepiratejony0
  • Reply 13 of 36
    ksecksec Posts: 1,480member
    The article is basically a rehash of what i said here


    Along with new information from Digitimes on Aixtron SE. This is , Liquid Metal all over again!

    Sigh.

    The Aixtron AIX G5 has literally nothing to do with the MicroLED solution Apple are using / trying. This Wafer based MicroLED, are insanely expensive, but may have a much better chance of being commercially deployed in specific applications.

    Mini LED, something TV market will try to do next year to combat OLED TV using Mini LED backlight, isn't even cost efficient yet, but it is not far off and can leveraging all the existing manufacturing infrastructure.  

    I would LOVE to be proven wrong. Micro OLED is like the holy grail on paper, but reality is OLED has a very clear roadmap of improvement coming in the next three years while Micro OLED; cost issues aside, has yet to prove themselves.







    patchythepirate
  • Reply 14 of 36
    ksec said:
    The article is basically a rehash of what i said here


    Along with new information from Digitimes on Aixtron SE. This is , Liquid Metal all over again!

    Sigh.

    The Aixtron AIX G5 has literally nothing to do with the MicroLED solution Apple are using / trying. This Wafer based MicroLED, are insanely expensive, but may have a much better chance of being commercially deployed in specific applications.

    Mini LED, something TV market will try to do next year to combat OLED TV using Mini LED backlight, isn't even cost efficient yet, but it is not far off and can leveraging all the existing manufacturing infrastructure.  

    I would LOVE to be proven wrong. Micro OLED is like the holy grail on paper, but reality is OLED has a very clear roadmap of improvement coming in the next three years while Micro OLED; cost issues aside, has yet to prove themselves.







    Before taking a leap, let's take a step. -Quantum-Dots.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 3,963member
    gatorguy said:
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better?
    PPI matters when you zoom in. Something not known in the Android world but in iOS instant zoom is a common usage pattern.
    On Android it's invoked with a triple-tap of one finger, while iOS is double-tap three fingers, so yes it's a bit different but very similar.
    No. Double-tap with one finger is the stand zoom/unzoom gesture in iOS as seen in Safari and Photos. Been that way for ten years... You don't have any iOS devices, do you?
    edited October 2017 randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    netrox said:
    I am still waiting for the day where a display of that resolution and color would not be emissive but simply change color of pixel and we rely on light to illuminate on the display, like e-ink. The e-ink is still limited by low latency and poor color depth.
    Forget e-ink. There are limitations to that technology that can’t be solved because ot the nature of it. The very technology itself is the limiting factor. While there are a number of different technologies (e-ink is a brand name), either the quality of the display is poor, can’t deliver 24 bits of color, has slow refresh, or is extremely expensive.

    while it’s fine for e readers, where page refresh speed isn’t important, though Kindles often are criticized for slow page turn speed, it can’t display video, or fast cursor movement, except with some very expensive technologies. The lack of 24 bit color is also a problem, as is the fact that as a reflective technology, it gets dimmer as light levels get dimmer. At the same time, both LCD and OLED brightness levels have increased markedly. So there are readers that have frontal lighting with LEDs on the edges. The lighting isn’t perfectly even though.

    most of these technologies will never have more that a small number of colors available, and in addition, those colors are muted, not at all vibrant.

    its a great technology for a number of uses, but not for smartphones, tablets, monitors or tablets TVs.
    bb-15
  • Reply 17 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    ksec said:
    The article is basically a rehash of what i said here


    Along with new information from Digitimes on Aixtron SE. This is , Liquid Metal all over again!

    Sigh.

    The Aixtron AIX G5 has literally nothing to do with the MicroLED solution Apple are using / trying. This Wafer based MicroLED, are insanely expensive, but may have a much better chance of being commercially deployed in specific applications.

    Mini LED, something TV market will try to do next year to combat OLED TV using Mini LED backlight, isn't even cost efficient yet, but it is not far off and can leveraging all the existing manufacturing infrastructure.  

    I would LOVE to be proven wrong. Micro OLED is like the holy grail on paper, but reality is OLED has a very clear roadmap of improvement coming in the next three years while Micro OLED; cost issues aside, has yet to prove themselves.







    What I’ve read is that R&D on MicroLED was chugging along at a somewhat sluggish rate until Apple bought LuxVue. Then everyone sat up and began to put more money into the research. Apple is thought to be ahead in this area, but no one knows exactly where they are in relation to a manufacturable product. I’ve also read that’s it’s thought they could be as close as a year away from a Watch size display. I hope so.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 18 of 36
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 17,875member
    gatorguy said:
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better?
    PPI matters when you zoom in. Something not known in the Android world but in iOS instant zoom is a common usage pattern.
    On Android it's invoked with a triple-tap of one finger, while iOS is double-tap three fingers, so yes it's a bit different but very similar.
    No. Double-tap with one finger is the stand zoom/unzoom gesture in iOS as seen in Safari and Photos. Been that way for ten years... You don't have any iOS devices, do you?
    https://www.imore.com/how-use-zoom-accessibility-iphone-and-ipad
    You're welcome.

    ...and for those who hadn't yet noticed iOS 11 adds another nice zoom feature specifically for Apple Maps: One Handed Zoom
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 19 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member

    Avieshek said:
    ksec said:
    The article is basically a rehash of what i said here


    Along with new information from Digitimes on Aixtron SE. This is , Liquid Metal all over again!

    Sigh.

    The Aixtron AIX G5 has literally nothing to do with the MicroLED solution Apple are using / trying. This Wafer based MicroLED, are insanely expensive, but may have a much better chance of being commercially deployed in specific applications.

    Mini LED, something TV market will try to do next year to combat OLED TV using Mini LED backlight, isn't even cost efficient yet, but it is not far off and can leveraging all the existing manufacturing infrastructure.  

    I would LOVE to be proven wrong. Micro OLED is like the holy grail on paper, but reality is OLED has a very clear roadmap of improvement coming in the next three years while Micro OLED; cost issues aside, has yet to prove themselves.







    Before taking a leap, let's take a step. -Quantum-Dots.
    I wonder if that’s worthwhile. If we knew more about where the present state of MicroLED is with Apple, other than what I read in some industry publications, which are after all, just making educated guesses, then we would have a better idea.

    just as OLED is considered to be a middle technology between LCD and whatever comes after, some consider quantum dots to be a step on the road. Does it pay to spend a lot of money on a technology that may have, say, a two year life span of use? Maybe not.

    oled is becoming popular because it does offer certain advantages, and MicroLED and other advanced technologies have been so far away, that using OLED for five, six, or possibly for as long as ten years makes sense. But if MicroLED is just two years away, at least for a small watch display, does R&D into quantum dots even make sense? There are a few TVs out with it. But newer non quantum dot models look almost as good.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 20 of 36
    nhtnht Posts: 4,005member
    melgross said:
    gatorguy said:
    tipoo said:
    I hope it also lets the regular iPhone move past 750p. 

    A person with 20/20 vision, holding the phone 1 foot (30cm) from the eye can see 300ppi.

    Why strain you GPU with unnecessary PPI density, when it could be processing machine learning tasks to make the usability better
    Some VR/AR uses absolutely benefit from much higher screen resolutions than 300ppi. Apple has moved far beyond that with their latest models, 458ppi with the X, 401ppi for the 8+. You don't think Apple did so just for spec's do you? That old claim of 300ppi as being the perfect screen resolution and anything more being useless was as much marketing as fact.
    Except that it’s really true that more than 325 ppl for someone with 20/20 vision, holding the phone at a normal distance, is overkill. I read all kinds of nonsense about this. People claiming that phones with 500ppi look sharper, for example. Not true. Then there are those who, without understanding them, quote studies on very high resolution, or “show” that we really can see it. While under special circumstances, we can, it’s not realistic under any normal circumstances.
    Lol, melgross redefining reality again.

    The fact is humans can see better than 20/20 and 300ppi@1foot.  Citing studies is called "research" and is the foundation of engineering and science.  That none of the folks you showed your phone to has excellent vision is anecdotal and that's called "handwaving".

    NHK is in the business of figuring out how to recreate reality given the limits of current technology and their research clearly shows that in the "real world" higher resolution results in a much more realistic image and that in their testing, viewers can "distinguish between pictures that present 156 and 78 cycles per degree. This equates to 312 and 156 pixels per degree respectively" [1] which is far higher than the 60 pixels per degree quoted for 20/20 vision (aka 300ppi).

    Many folks have 20/10 vision.  Not your friends evidently.

    A SMPTE presentation [2] describes the impact of higher than snellen acuity and FOV on the impact to the audience in terms of perception of reality (also based in part on the NHK studies).  Note that even for "normal" acuity that the central part of the fovea has about double the receptors and a higher "resolution" of 60 cycles per degree or 120 ppd or 600 dpi based on Nyquist limits.

    But nah...again, with a wave of your mighty hand humans can't see more than 300 ppi in real world situations (despite NHK measuring this in the real world) and no OLED can do HDR.

    NHK researchers obviously don't understand human acuity or video image presentation better than melgross...

    [1] http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/static/files/mkt/digitalcinema/Why_4K_WP_Final.pdf

    [2] https://www.smpte.org/sites/default/files/23-1615-TS7-2-IProc01-McCarthy.pdf

Sign In or Register to comment.