Apple is using the facility, where it has about 300 engineers, to make prototype microLED displays. The company is expected to outsource high volume manufacturing to suppliers. Apple acquired LuxVue Technology Corp., a pioneer of microLED displays headquarterd in Santa Clara, in 2014.
Apple was therefore expected to push microLED as alternative to OLED particularly for items such as its smartwatch. MicroLED is an emissive display technology that offers high contrast, high speed, and wide viewing angle. MicroLEDs could also offer wider color gamut, orders of magnitude higher brightness, reduced power consumption and improved lifetime over OLED displays. In addition, microLEDs allow the integration of sensors and circuits, enabling thin displays with embedded sensing capabilities such as fingerprint identification and gesture control.
MicroLEDs are also expected to have an impact in virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. However, microLED displays have proved more difficult to produce than OLED displays, and Apple nearly killed the project, the report said.
If Apple can master the technology it would serve the twin goals of providing a point of differentiation against other smartphone suppliers and reduce its dependence on Samsung for LCDs and OLED displays.
The initiative is code-named T159, Bloomberg said.
Even though the Santa Clara has produced a prototype smartwatch with a microLED display it could be at least two years before customers gain access to the technology in wearables. It could take three to five years before it is deployed in smartphones the report states.
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