Plessey and Vuzix Partner on MicroLED-based AR and MR Smart Glasses

Plessey Semiconductors of Plymouth, England, reported that it is partnering with Vuzix, a developer of technology for Smart Glasses. The goal of the partnership is to create the necessary technologies for a new generation of Artificial Reality (AR) Smart Glasses, using a combination of Plessey’s microLED light source product family, Quanta-Brite™, and Vuzix’ expertise and intellectual property in Smart Glasses and crucial optic technologies.

Artist rendering of microLED display module utilizing Plessey microLEDs and Vuzix waveguide optics

Plessey has successfully demonstrated how its novel monolithic microLED technology can be adopted for Smart Glasses for a wide range of Artificial Reality (AR) and mixed-reality (MR) applications, both indoors and out. In addition, Vuzix already developed an evolving line of Smart Glasses ending in the Vuzix Blade, the next generation smart display with see-through viewing via the company’s proprietary waveguide optics.

Vuzix Makes the Waveguide

The waveguide serves as a primary component of an AR/MR product. Vizix makes the waveguide from glass with precision nanostructures. It enables users to see high-resolution computer-generated graphics, images, and information superimposed over digital photos from the physical or real world. Vuzix has selected Plessey’s microLED-based Quanta-Brite™ light engine for the display. According to Plessey, the light engine offers exceptionally high efficiency and an increase in lumen output compared to other currently available light sources.

Quanta-Brite™ utilizes Plessey’s proprietary gallium-nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology and integrates a monolithic array of RGB pixels with micro-optical elements to create a bright, mostly collimated and uniform light source for the illumination of digital-micromirror-device (DMD) and liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCOS) display engines.

Plessey Says its MicroLEDs Make Resulting Optical System 50% Smaller

Plessey contends that the resulting optical system is up to 50% smaller, lighter, simpler and less expensive than the display solutions it replaces, and the high-performance microLED emitters combined with minimal optical system losses result in significantly improved power efficiency. Size, weight and reduced power consumption are vital concerns in AR/MR wearables. Quanta-Brite™ was designed specifically for the next generation of Vuzix personal display systems.

“Plessey’s Quanta-Brite™ microLED™ technology can be a major enabler of the future of augmented reality,” said Vuzix president and CEO Paul Travers. “As well as delivering high-efficiency, low-power and small-size illumination capabilities, the very high level of luminescence of the Quanta-Brite™ light source can also enable the development of end products with a sleeker form factor, which is a key attribute of our waveguide based Smart Glasses and critical to mass market adoption.”

Dr. Keith Strickland, Plessy’s CTO commented, “‘Monolithic microLED technology is fast emerging as the only one that can provide high luminance in a very small form factor with minimal energy consumption, necessary for reducing costs and enabling lightweight battery-powered products for a range of emerging consumer and industrial applications.”

At the international trade show Display Week 2018 held in the Convention Center in Los Angeles from May 20–25 and organized by the Society for Information Display, Dr. Strickland delivered a paper examining the future of microLED displays using next-generation technologies.

Luxeon Color