What kind of screen are we looking forward to on VR/AR devices?
The fire of “Metaverse” has already burned into the upstream industrial chain!
Recently, TCL Technology announced that it will invest 15 billion yuan to expand a 6th-generation LTPS LCD display device production line to produce small and medium-sized high-end display screens that can be used in VR and other equipment.
▲Announcement by TCL Technology
Yunnan Chuangshijie, a subsidiary of BOE Holdings, is building a 12-inch silicon-based OLED production line with a total investment of 3.4 billion yuan and a planned annual production capacity of 5.23 million pieces. At the same time, BOE is still providing VR/AR manufacturers with small-size Fast LCD and silicon-based OLED, and other commonly used miniature display screens.
Domestic screen manufacturers are increasing the layout of miniature display screen production lines in VR/AR equipment. Players in the upstream display industry chain in China are using a small micro-screen to actually open the door to the concept of Metaverse, and let Chinese manufacturing try to take the lead in securing a commanding height in the field of Metaverse.
The miniature display screen occupies a small space and is mainly used in small, portable near-eye display systems and projection display systems. At present, common micro display screens include liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS), liquid crystal display (LCD), digital micromirror device (DMD), OLED on silicon (OLED-on-Si), Micro LED, and Mini LED.
▲Varjo Aero VR headset uses Mini LED display screen
The Markets&Markets research organization predicts that the micro OLED screen market will reach nearly $1.6 billion in 2024. Sri Peruvemba, a board member of the International Information Display Society, also said that the global microdisplay market is expected to reach 50 million units in 2024, covering AR/VR devices, smart glasses, head-mounted displays (HMD) and head-up displays (HUD) and other product areas.
The miniature display screen is the basis for the interaction of VR/AR and other hardware, and it is also one of the core technologies to enter the “Metaverse”. How will display screen manufacturers in the upstream of the supply chain bet on the future development of the VR/AR industry? What are the core technologies of the micro display screen? Can domestic players achieve corner overtaking? After communicating with many veterans in the upstream industry chain, I discovered the opportunities and challenges behind the miniature display screen.
01 . Miniature display screen different from other screen?
Many people are curious, what is the difference between the display screens on VR devices and AR devices and the screens on electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablets?
The display screens of VR devices, AR devices, and traditional electronic devices have different distances from the eyes and different display effects, so different optical display solutions are adopted.
In addition, the same type of screen will give different design solutions for screen brightness and screen pixels according to the needs of the product, but the overall manufacturing process is generally similar.
▲Different display solutions for VR equipment and AR equipment
Not only are the screens on VR devices and AR devices different from ordinary consumer electronics screens, but the screens on VR devices and AR devices also have different measurement standards based on product needs.
1. No longer dizzy with VR equipment, when will the problem be solved?
There are three core elements that determine the display effect of a VR device: field of view (FOV), angular resolution (PPD) and persistence of vision (Persistence). Among them, the miniature display screen determines the angular resolution and visual persistence of the VR device, that is, the degree of motion sickness.
We often use PPI to measure the screen resolution of mobile phones, but in VR devices, people’s field of view will be limited, so we will use PPD (Angular Resolution) to judge the clarity of the screen. PPD refers to the number of pixels filled in an average angle of 1° in the field of view.
▲Schematic diagram of angular resolution
For head-mounted display products, the larger the PPD value, the finer the display of the details of the product. If you want to increase the PPD of a VR device, you can reduce the viewing angle or increase the pixels in each 1° angle.
However, narrowing the display viewing angle of the device will reduce the user’s sense of immersion. Therefore, manufacturers can only design screens with more pixels to increase the display resolution of the VR head-mounted display screen, which also puts higher requirements on the display technology of the screen.
It is understood that the screen display mainly involves the process requirements of the screen itself and the lens, such as how to pack more pixels into a limited screen, how to deal with the problem of leakage between pixels, and how to Manufacture a thinner lens and apply it to the screen.
On the other hand, wearing a VR/AR device often causes the phenomenon of persistence of vision, that is, when people wear a VR headset, the light signal transmitted to the human brain is almost instantaneous, and people see every picture almost instantaneously, but The visual effect will stay in the mind for a while, which leads to confusion in the human brain and eye foreground, which leads to dizziness. This is also one of the main reasons why many users cannot and do not want to use VR devices for a long time.
▲When the VR device is first used, it is easy to cause dizziness
Shi Ming, head of iQiyi’s intelligent technology, told Zhishi that the main causes of dizziness are the imbalance of human sensory organs, the long delay of equipment, and the fluency of game resources. “The screen refresh rate and delay are often positively correlated. We default that the higher the screen refresh rate, the smaller the delay caused.”
Shi Ming said that when the screen refresh rate of a VR device reaches 72Hz or 90Hz, it will not have a major impact on vertigo. “The main reason is still the delay.”
He said that in the actual imaging process of the device, the delay felt by the user is the time from the rendering of the first frame of the screen to the time the user actually sees the process. The current process time is about 20ms, but if you want to show For better display, this time needs to be compressed.
▲Comparison of screen data related to some VR devices (organized by smart things)
We see that in terms of screen size, manufacturers like Pico and Oculus choose to use a whole miniature display screen, but HTC and iQiyi’s VR headsets choose to use two display screens. Shi Ming, head of iQiyi’s intelligent technology, said that the use of two miniature display screens on the VR device can achieve a higher screen resolution on the one hand, and on the other hand, it can better adjust the interpupillary distance to enhance the viewing experience.
In addition, in terms of the types of VR screens, according to a survey by Zhizhi, the current VR headsets on the market mostly use LCD screens or Fast LCD screens. Fast LCD screen rendering requires a certain amount of backlight response and data transmission time, but OLED screens do not. This is one of the reasons why some high-end VR headsets choose OLED screens at this stage.
In fact, OLED screens are not the best solution among VR equipment manufacturers. In terms of performance, Micro LED screens have more advantages. Micro LED screen has a thinner display screen, lower power consumption and higher display resolution. According to reports, industry insiders predict that the power consumption of Micro LED screens may only need half of that of OLED screens to produce the same brightness.
Since Micro LED screens have not yet begun mass production, whether Micro LED can really dominate the micro display screen market remains to be certified by the industry.
▲Comparison of miniature display screens equipped with VR devices
We can see that the miniature display screen determines the angular resolution of the VR device and the degree of dizziness. To improve the display clarity of the VR device, it is necessary to increase the angular resolution of the screen and add more pixels. In addition, manufacturers need to shorten the display delay to reduce the user’s dizziness.
2. The screen of AR device is also waiting for Micro LED?
Different from VR equipment, AR equipment is based on the real environment and displays more information. People do not see the picture directly through the human eye, but refract it to people’s eyes through other optical devices.
The optical display system of AR equipment is mainly divided into two parts, optical display technology and micro display screen. In the choice of micro display screen, there are currently liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS), digital light processing (DLP), and silicon-based OLED ( OLED-on-Si) and Micro LED.
▲Comparison between the miniature display screens equipped with AR devices
Based on many considerations such as cost and performance, manufacturers currently mainly use LCoS, but everyone defaults that LCoS is only a transitional product. In the future, Micro LED can provide better optical display effects, and at the same time or become the mainstream micro display screen element. Device.
Among them, the advantage of LCoS is that its mass production process is relatively mature, and most of the parameters are adapted to optical waveguides, which is the main solution for AR equipment at present. However, due to the degree of light loss and other reasons, LCoS is not the miniature display screen that all manufacturers expect.
What is the best display solution? Considering the refresh rate, brightness, light emitting method, pixel density, etc., Micro LED is the best solution recognized in the industry. But its pixel size and pitch are on the order of a few microns, which brings great challenges to mass production and full-color scheme design.
▲Micro LED pixels
“For a long period of time in the future, whether it is an AR device or a VR device, there should be several solutions in parallel on the micro display screen. We will choose according to the needs of customers.” An executive of a terminal manufacturer told Zhi Zhi thing.
In general, the micro display screens of VR devices currently mainly use Fast LCD screens, and AR devices mainly use LCoS screens or silicon-based OLEDs, but both AR device manufacturers and VR device manufacturers hold Micro LED screens. High expectations.
02 . BOE, TCL have bet the track miniature display screen
Now we know that the current mainstream VR equipment will mainly be Micro LED and silicon-based OLED as the mainstream, and AR equipment display solutions include LCoS optical waveguide + Micro LED. So, which domestic and foreign manufacturers are here, and what position do domestic players and foreign players occupy?
Let’s first take a look at the first-line screen manufacturer BOE. BOE has launched a silicon-based OLED screen with 5644PPI screen resolution and 120Hz+ refresh rate, and said it can be used in VR, AR and other fields.
Research organization Omdia said that the pixel pitch range of BOE Mini LED display products can reach 0.7mm to 1.2mm, and the pixel pitch range of Micro OLED products is 0.39 to 0.71 inches.
At the Visionox Innovation Conference 2021, Visionox stated that its subsidiary Chenxian Optoelectronics has built its own full-process Micro LED pilot line. In the future, it will focus on the development of Micro LED through this industry line to provide VR/AR equipment. Mini display screen.
And, in late July this year, Chenxian Optoelectronics lighted up the first domestic sample tapeout with 326PPI pixel density, 1600nit display brightness, nearly 180° wide viewing angle, and 1.84 inch Micro LED wearable samples. It is reported that this is currently the Micro LED wearable product with the highest pixel density and the largest size in mainland China.
▲Chenxian Optoelectronics’ Micro LED wearable sample tape out
On November 16, TCL Technology launched the world’s first 2.02-inch LTPS VR display screen with a high resolution of 1512PPI. This is also the first VR display screen created by TCL Technology, marking TCL Technology’s official entry into the VR display field.
In addition, Thunderbird Innovation, co-founded by TCL Electronics and Thunderbird Technology, released the first binocular full-color AR glasses Thunderbird Smart Glasses Pioneer Edition, which uses holographic optical waveguide technology and Micro LED micro display screens.
▲The Pioneer version of Thunderbird Smart Glasses is equipped with a Micro LED display screen
At the same time, some start-up companies have also overcome difficulties and plan to seize a place in the Micro LED industry. Hong Kong Micro LED manufacturer JBD announced that they have officially released the 0.13-inch J013X01VGA series Micro LED AR micro display products.
▲JBD’s 0.13-inch J013X01VGA Micro LED display
Not only are domestic players eager to lay out miniature screens that can be applied to VR/AR devices in the future, foreign players also spotted the track early.
According to Korean media ETnews, Apple is developing an XR device with a silicon-based OLED display screen. In addition, Kopin, a US micro-display technology developer, announced a partnership with a Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer. The two parties will jointly develop 2Kx2K full-color Micro LED micro-displays, targeting AR/MR and other applications.
In addition, display screen manufacturer eMagin announced the launch of a prototype of a full-color OLED microdisplay product with a pixel resolution of up to 1920×1200 on November 1. It is reported that the product adopts direct pattern display (dPd) technology, and the brightness reaches an ultra-high 10,000 nits, which is currently the world’s highest brightness high-resolution, full-color OLED microdisplay.
Andrew G. Sculley, CEO of eMagin, said that existing micro-displays often cannot provide enough brightness for VR/AR. The manufacturer’s goal is a 10% duty cycle, and the efficiency of the optical system is usually also within the range of 10%. Therefore, if you want the eyes to obtain 100 nits of brightness, the display needs at least 10,000 nits.
Samsung, the “big brother” in the screen industry, does not seem to be making a big move with regards to miniature display screens. It seems that big screens and TVs are the mainstream scenes for OLED applications in the future. It is reported that Samsung is developing new technology with the aim of reducing the pixel pitch of Micro LED TVs below 100 inches to 0.5mm.
Whether it is high resolution, small size, or even screen brightness, different players are pouring into it one after another, starting to enter the micro display screen market based on their own advantages.
TCL China Star COO Zhao Jun once analyzed the pattern of display screens at home and abroad at the 2021 TCL China Star Global Display Ecology Conference. He believes that in the LCD field, Chinese manufacturers have formed a leading global competitiveness. In the OLED field, it may be about two to three years. China and South Korea are expected to reach the same level of competition in both large and small sizes.
�?Zhao Jun, COO of TCL Huaxing
But at the same time, Zhao Jun also revealed, “In the field of OLED, small-size vapor-deposited OLED, and large-size white light OLED, South Korean manufacturers are relatively competitive. Samsung SDC has a relatively large market in small size and LG display in large size. Leading edge.”
Finally, he talked about the next three to five years, or even five to ten years, for the new generation of display technologies, including printed OLED, Mini LED, and Micro LED display technologies, and the progress of Chinese companies is relatively fast.
03 . Miniature display screen market What pain points?
As a key component of VR/AR equipment, the market for miniature display screens is still in the just-developing stage.
On the one hand, the cost of Micro LEDs is relatively high in terms of price. According to reports, the cost of Micro LEDs is mainly distributed in the two major projects of mass transfer and repair. Mass transfer refers to the use of Micro LED chips in larger sizes. And it can be assembled on a substrate with logic circuits to meet application requirements. The cost of Micro LED screens is at least about 10 times that of LCD screens or 8 times that of OLED display screens.
▲Mini display screen
On the other hand, the current VR/AR equipment is mainly based on the B-end market, which is still far away from ordinary consumer groups. For ordinary consumer groups, VR/AR equipment is still a “new gadget”, I have heard of it, but I haven’t experienced it yet.
The “5G Retail Industry Application White Paper” released by the foreign research organization Nielsen last year pointed out that the post-90s and post-00s population has the highest awareness of AR/VR, but it does not cover the entire population. The limited application of VR/AR equipment market has also affected the market scale of the entire miniature display screen.
High cost and limited market size are the “blockers” in the mass production stage of Micro LED, so most manufacturers are unwilling to use Micro LED screens on their devices. With the development of technology, the layout of Micro LED production lines at home and abroad is gradually implemented. The refresh rate and brightness of Micro LED will become its unique advantages in the micro display screen track.
At the same time, the influx of manufacturers such as Samsung and BOE also means that micro display screens are a blue ocean market with greater potential.
04 . Conclusion: miniature display screen or as a display screen manufacturersNew power point
The annual hot word “Metaverse” in the technology circle this year has brought a high degree of attention to players on the VR/AR track, and the miniature display screens on VR/AR devices have gradually become a new force for major display manufacturers to chase after. point.
Recently, Sony announced an 8K resolution VR headset model on its event day, which uses Micro OLED micro display. Micro OLED micro display screens have gradually become the preferred choice for high-end VR equipment.
According to a report by the research organization Omdia, by 2026, the market value of consumer VR will reach 16 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 148% over 2021. With the widespread application of VR/AR devices, miniature display screens are about to become a new outlet for screen racing.
Can domestic players take this opportunity to overtake the corner and take the lead? We will continue to pay attention to how manufacturers involving micro display screens can play their advantages in the new market changes.
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