Is Facebook planning to use eMagin's dPd OLED microdisplay in its next-gen VR or AR device?

OLED microdisplay maker eMagin has been developing direct-emission OLED microdisplay (also called directly-patterned, or dPd) for many years, and is considered to be the leading company - the closest one to commercialize such a display. A dPd will enable much higher efficiency/brightness compared to current designs based on color filters.

White OLED with CF structure vs dPd structure (eMagin)

In the past eMagin reported of several leading companies that have licensed the technology and/or are working with the company towards the design of custom dPd OLED displays for future AR/VR products. In 2017 for example eMagin reported of a Tier-1 CE company that licensed its dPd tech, and in 2020 the company said it started a new consumer-related AR development project for a next-generation display for a Tier-1 customer.

Some of eMagin's investors have always estimated that the Tier-1 CE company is no other than Apple. Several key eMagin employees, including some dPd patent inventors, that left to work for Apple following the 2017 license announcement. We believe that Apple is working on several potential and competing designs for its future AR headset, so one based on eMagin's OLEDs is a certain possibility.

Facebook/Oculus recently posted two new job openings, which lead an investor group to believe that Facebook is one of eMagin's customers - and is looking into adopting eMagin's dPd OLED microdisplays in its next-generation AR or VR device.

The first posting is an OLED Test Engineer, and this one specifically mentions "Knowledge in direct patterning tech and Evaporation equipment system". The second posting is for an OLED Circuit Design & Process Engineer, of which the main responsibility will be to "Partner with internal and external teams to develop uOLED displays based on silicon chips with specific process lines".

Note that one of these posts is for Facebook itself, the other for Oculus. It's not clear whether that's an important distinction, though.

Oculus actually have a public history of working together with eMagin - back in 2017 it announced that it has developed a new way to improve extended focus depth issues with VR HMDs. The prototype of Oculus' so-called focal surface display used an eMagin WUXGA (1920×1200) 60 Hz color microOLED display.

We also know that Facebook is investing in MicroLED technology for next-generation microdisplays - it has acquired microLED developer Plessey back in 2020. It is highly likely that Facebook, like other leading developers, is trying out different designs and technologies.

This is an interesting speculation. When eMagin discusses its Tier-1 customers, the usual suspects come to mind, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Sony. All these companies are highly invested in next-gen AR/VR technologies. It will be very interesting to see what kind of role will OLED microdisplays play in these future devices.

Disclosure: the author of this post holds some shares in eMagin

Posted: Aug 17,2021 by Ron Mertens


FB is clearly aware of eMagin as this FB patent shows an eMagin 1920 x 1200 micro-display in Fig 7-

eMagin was also used in the FB Focal Surfaces Display prototype -