Google is entering into the augmented reality (AR) space with its acquisition of Raxium, a five-year-old startup that develops microLED displays centred around AR and Virtual Reality (VR) applications.
“Today we’re announcing that Google has acquired Raxium, an innovator in single panel MicroLED display technologies,” said Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google, in a company announcement post.
“The team at Raxium has spent five years creating miniaturised, cost-effective and energy efficient high-resolution displays that have laid the foundation for future display technologies. Raxium’s technical expertise in this area will play a key role as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts."
This leap into AR comes a year after it stopped its VR pursuit. The tech giant, which was among the frontrunners in the mobile VR space had halted its Cardboard SDK (provide the fundamental tools to design, build and test VR endeavours) development and open-sourced it in 2019 and stopped selling its VR hardware, the cardboard hardware altogether in March 2021. The message on the Google Store that was first noted by Android Police, stated, “We are no longer selling Google Cardboard on the Google Store.”
In the domain of transparent displays, OLED Microdisplays is seen as the best possible option for its high pixel density and also as it does not require backlight. However, OLEDs comes with its limitations and since AR headsets will be used in bright surroundings, low brightness could be an impediment.
In this space, Apple is rumoured to bring in a high-end AR or mixed reality headset. According to reports, the headset could use MicroLED displays and is rumoured to cost as high as $3,000.
Microsoft at present has an industry-oriented headset- the HoloLens 2, priced at $3,500.
Facebook’s parent company Meta has Oculus Quest 2, a consumer-focussed VR headset, which the company has renamed to Meta Quest starts at $300.
As of now it is too early to estimate when Google might come out with its AR headsets and which market would it ideally target.