Plessey and WaveOptics Announce Strategic Partnership Using MicroLED Display Technology for Smart Glasses

Plessey, an embedded technologies developer at the forefront of microLED technology for the augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) display market, announced at Photonics West its’ partnership with WaveOptics, the leading designer and manufacturer of diffractive waveguides.

This industry-leading partnership will focus on the creation of a new optical module, designed specifically for the next generation of smart glasses. The module will incorporate Plessey’s high brightness microLED, native green full HD display along with WaveOptics’ Katana waveguide technology and projector design. Critically, this module will be the smallest and lowest mass AR display module available on the market. The full HD microLED display from Plessey is the result of its previously announced partnership with Compound Photonics, to combine Plessey’s GaN/Si microLED display technology with Compound Photonics’ industry-leading digital low latency backplane and high-performance NOVA display driver architecture.

The next generation of AR and MR systems depends on a technological leap in the performance of the optical module. Advances in image quality, brightness, resolution, and efficient power consumption are sought after in order to make these new AR and MR systems a compelling practical and visual experience. The collaboration between Plessey and WaveOptics delivers the necessary innovation by bringing together Plessey’s award-winning GaN/Si microLED display technology and WaveOptics new generation waveguide technology and projector design.

The substantial reduction in size and power requirements in this module enables enhanced features such as wireless transceivers for true, untethered AR applications, which are key for technology and mobile companies looking to launch smart glasses as a mobile accessory.

“This partnership will create a new product opportunity for companies building AR wearables,” commented David Hayes, CEO WaveOptics. “For the first time, customers will be able to buy the lightest, ultra-low-power module which combines the unique combination of WaveOptics and Plessey technologies. This is a crucial development to enable this technology to reach the consumer market in 2020.”

Mike Lee, the president of corporate and business development at Plessey said, “Our partnership with WaveOptics is a significant endorsement of Plessey’s GaN-on-Silicon microLED approach. Our microLED displays are recognised as being at the forefront in delivering the high-performance display panels demanded by AR and MR devices.”

AR headsets that allow the user to seamlessly transition between the bright outdoors to darker indoor environments require a display technology that can deliver both, very high brightness and low power consumption for long battery life. Plessey’s displays with WaveOptics technology can rise to the challenge of this demanding requirement.

WaveOptics unveiled its latest waveguide, Katana, at Photonics West 2020. Katana is the industry’s thinnest and lightest waveguide, which expands the possibilities of AR wearable design for consumer technology companies, bringing AR wearables to the mass market.

Smaller and more efficient projectors are essential for the improvement in smart glasses and other AR wearables. The use of microLED panels offers the potential of significant reductions in size and power consumption of AR projectors compared to photo-reflective panels such as LCoS and DMD. However, the realisation of these benefits can only be unlocked with a waveguide and projector custom designed to match the optical and electrical characteristics of microLED panels. WaveOptics has the technical capabilities to design and fabricate a fully integrated AR display module making the best use of the Plessey microLED characteristics.