Kopin microdisplays could make VR headsets sharper and slimmer


— 4:00 PM on February 21, 2017

Even the best available virtual reality headsets could be a lot better. Higher resolutions, higher refresh rates, reduced weight, and lower power consumption would all make VR experiences more immersive and convenient. Massachusetts-based wearable electronics manufacturer Kopin says its Lightning OLED microdisplays could make all of that happen. The company showed off a 2048x2048 1"-diagonal display at the Consumer Electronics Show with 2940 PPI that can operate at refresh rates up to 120Hz with 10-microsecond latency. Kopin says future-generation OLED microdisplays could sport 3000x3000 or higher resolutions, and could fit into VR head-mounted displays with form factors closer to eyeglasses than to existing headsets.

Seth Colaner from Tom's Hardware had a chance to meet with representatives from Kopin, and described what he learned in this recent article. Kopin's Lightning display uses an OLED array on silicon rather than glass. According to Colaner, Kopin is integrating the Lightning display into prototypes with Fresnel lenses and stacked optics.

Lower power consumption in a VR headset could lead to reduced cabling and bulk, both prized conveniences in the VR space. Kopin says its technology would be ideal for mobile VR where every watt comes from a battery. The company says the Lightning microdisplays could be adapted for use in augmented reality platforms, too.

Kopin's Lightning microdisplays are still firmly in the prototype stage. Dr. Hong Choi, the CTO of  Kopin, told Tom's Hardware that the price of the company's microdisplays "may be competitive or somewhat higher than the direct-view OLED on glass panels used in VR headsets such as Oculus or HTC Vive."

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