(Cambridge,MA 08/23/17) Brain Power Director of Software Development, Joseph Salisbury models and demonstrates Google Glass on Wednesday,August 23, 2017 at Brain Power offices. Staff photo by Patrick Whittemore.
 (Photo by Patrick Whittemore/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
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Google May Have Found The Tech To Take AR Smart Glasses Mainstream
Though publicly unannounced, Google has reportedly acquired Raxium, a California-based start-up that is developing microLED display technology for use in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset displays. MicroLED displays are not the same as miniLED displays, which marry a conventional LED backlight approach with an LCD panel.
MicroLED displays are akin to OLED displays as the pixels are self-illuminated, providing truer blacks with better contrast and brightness. Although Raxium's microLED pixels are up to 300x smaller and 1000x brighter than those in an OLED panel, even small microLED panels used in AR/VR headsets will be costlier than a similar OLED panel.
Google has previously failed with AR headsets, as its Google Glass project wasn't suitable for a full commercial launch. Although its Google Cardboard VR project and the initiative it morphed (Google Daydream) were both short-lived, Google acquired smart glasses maker North in mid-2020, who had been developing AR-style glasses that look like traditional glasses.
The Raxium acquisition could see the microLED technology integrated into North's smart glass designs, making them more acceptable to wear in public, whereas people who wore Google Glass headsets in public were labeled "Glassholes.” The challenge is to make the technology useful, accessible, comfortable, and affordable.