Article last updated on: Nov 09, 2021

What are wearables?

Wearable computers, also called ‘wearables’, are technological devices that can be worn as clothing or accessories. Some wearables are based on relatively simple technology, similar to a scaled-down desktop computer, but some involve innovative technologies. Wearables include different products, such as fitness bands, wearable headsets, smart watches, healthcare monitoring and displays embedded in textiles.

The wearables market is diverse, but faces similar challenges like minimizing size and weight of components, deciding on optimal display location, choosing suitable services and applications to provide and balancing cost-to-price ratios.

What is an OLED?

OLED is a light-emitting diode built from thin films of organic electroluminescent material sandwiched between electrodes. OLED devices emit light when current is run through them, and are used to develop display and lighting panels. OLED screens are thinner, lighter, more efficient and offer better performance and color quality than other existing technologies.

OLEDs divide into 2 groups: AMOLEDs and PMOLEDs, which refers to how the screen is addressed by the electronics of the device. Simple wearables such as fitness bands usually adopt PMOLED displays, while smartwatches and VR headsets opt for AMOLEDs. Here's more information about AMOLED vs. PMOLED technologies.

The OLED wearables market

OLED displays are very popular in the wearables market - thanks to the great image quality, the low power consumption and to the design possibilities enabled by flexible OLEDs. Most high-end smartwatches, fitness bands and headsets adopt OLED displays, including both Apple's Samsung's smartwatches. Here's our comprehensive list of wearable devices that use OLED displays.



Latest Wearable OLED news

DSCC: the OLED market remained flat in Q1 2022 at $9.5 billion

DSCC says that global OLED revenues in Q1 2022 were around $9.5 billion, the same as in Q1 2021, even though unit shipments declined 4%.

OLED market revenue 2020Q1-2022Q1 (DSCC)

Smartphone remained the leading OLED application, with a 79% revenue share, even though shipments decreased 8% (and revenues decreased 3%). The second largest application by shipments is wearables (16% in Q1 2022 by shipments and in 6% market share by revenues).

KAIST researchers develop a white OLED device on a fabric substrate

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a white OLED device that can be deposited on thin fabrics. The researchers say that this is the world's first such device, as previous white OLEDs, made using a tandem structure, could not be bent on fibers.

For the new device, the researchers developed a single white light-emitting layer. The brightness of the device is up to 700 nits, with an efficiency of 10 candelas per ampere.

Transparent OLEDs and MicroLEDs Report

DSCC: AMOLEDs and OLED microdisplays to re-enter the VR market in 2023-2024

In recent years we have seen AMOLED displays fall out of favor in the VR market, as most devices have opted for high-end LCDs, due to the better image definition, mostly. According to DSCC, this is set to change next year (in 2023).

VR-panel shipments by type (2021-2024, DSCC)

Sony has already adopted high density (>800PPI) AMOLED displays in the Playstation VR2, DSCC says that this trend will continue. DSCC also sees OLED microdisplays finally entering the VR market in 2023, with around 15 million such displays shipped in this market by 2024.

Look Labs launches a hoodie integrated with OLED lighting

Design house Look Labs announced a new product, a Hoodie called the omfy420 Metalight Hoodie that features the design house's CryptoPunk #5402, which is targeted for gamers who play Look Labs' own 420 game and can buy the hoodie from within the game and

The Hoodie features an Inuru's OLED lighting device which lights up the eyes of the figure in the hoodie. Inuru's OLEDispowered by an integrated thin-film battery that can be recharged wirelessly, and the whole system is washable and easy to integrate into textiles.

Reports suggest that Meta is working on two VR headsets, one with miniLED displays and the other with microOLED displays

Reports suggest that Meta (Facebook) is developing two new VR headsets, with very different display technologies - one with mini-LED displays, and the other with OLED microdisplays (as we reported in August 2021).

Oculus Rift consumer photo

The Oculus Quest Pro (codenamed Cambria) will be based on mini-LED displays, . Meta aims to launch the Quest Pro in the summer of 2022 and hopes to sell 3 million headsets by the end of the year.

DSCC: Apple's first VR headset will sport two OLED microdisplays and an additional AMOLED

Towards the end of 2021 we reported that Apple plans to launch its first AR headset in Q4 2022, powered by dual 4K OLED microdisplays, produced by Sony

Sony ECX339A OLED Microdisplay photo

According to Ross Young from DSSC, Apple first headset will actually be a VR headset, that uses a foveated display system. The headset will feature three displays - two 4K microLEDs (indeed produced by Sony) and one larger AMOLED display.

Report: Apple to release its first AR headset next year, based on 4K Sony OLED microdisplays

Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo says that Apple plans to launch its first AR headset in Q4 2022, powered by dual 4K OLED microdisplays, produced by Sony. The headset will feature Mac-level computer power and will not require a tethered smartphone to operate.

Sony ECX339A OLED Microdisplay photo

Apple has been working on AR technologies for many years. Last year it was indeed reported in Japan that Apple is working with Sony on its microdisplays. Earlier this year it was reported that Apple has teamed up with TSMC for microdisplay production - but it could be that TSMC will be the manufacturing partner, while Sony will provide the OLED technology and knowhow.

Apple launches the iPhone 13 smartphone family and the Watch Series 7, all with AMOLED displays

Apple introduced its latest iPhones, with four models, all featuring AMOLED displays. We'll start with the iPhone 13 which features a 6.1" Super Retina 1200 nits 1170x2532 (460 PPI) AMOLED display. The iPhone 13 mini offer similar specifications, with a 5.4" 1080x2340 1200 nits AMOLED (476 PPI) displays.

Apple iPhone 13 photo

The iPhone 13 Pro features a higher-end 6.1" 1170x2532 (460 PPI) 10Hz-120Hz 1200 nits LTPO AMOLED display, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max gets a larger 6.7-inch 1284x2778 (258 PPI) LTPO AMOLED.

Samsung announces the Galaxy Fold3 and Flip3 foldable phones, and new smartwatches

Samsung announced several new OLED devices, including its two new foldable smartphones. First up is the Galaxy Z Fold3, which features a 7.6-inch 1768x2208 120Hz 1200 nits foldable Dynamic AMOLED X2 display, and a 6.2-inch 120Hz 832x2268 external AMOLED display. The foldable phone sports Samsung's first under-the-display selfie camera.

Samsung says that the new Galaxy Fold has an improved hinge design and is more durable compared to previous generation devices. The second phone is the Galaxy Flip3, which features a 6.7-inch 120Hz 1200 nits 1080x2640 foldable Dynamic AMOLED display, and an external 1.9" 260x512 Super AMOLED display.

Sony says its next-generation VR headset will adopt OLED displays

In 2016 Sony launched its successful Sony Playstation VR Headset, with its 5.7" FHD (1920x1080) AMOLED display. The company is getting ready to release an updated version, and during its latest developer summit, it revealed some initial details.

The new VR headset will feature OLED displays, with higher resolutions - there will be dual 2000x2040 displays. The field of view is also improved to 110-degress (up from 100 degrees in the original PSVR).

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