Article last updated on: Feb 12, 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 are OLED s?

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. Here's our comprehensive list of wearable devices that use OLED displays.



Latest Wearable OLED news

BOE shows new OLED technologies at SID Displayweek 2021

BOE demonstrates several new OLED technologies at SID Displayweek 2021. First up is a new rollable display. The new display is 8-inch in size, and it features a resolution of 2592x2176 and a bending radius of 4 mm. BOE says the new display passed over 200,000 sliding cycles.

Last year at Displayweek 2020, BOE demonstrated a 12-inch rollable OLED. It has since been working with LG Electronics on the company's rollable smartphone (which was since canceled as LG withdrew from the smartphone market) and with OPPO on a 7.4-inch sliding OLED phone.

Everdisplay's 1.6" AMOLED displays are now available at the OLED Marketplace

China's Everdisplay started to produce a new 1.6" 360x320 AMOLED display, and these are now available in the OLED Marketplace. These small OLED displays are suitable for many applications, including wearables.

If you are interested in this display for your device or new project, contact us now, or check out more information over at the OLED Marketplace. We also list many other EDO AMOLED displays, including foldable displays and laptop displays.

The OLED Marketplace, find your OLED here

UBI: The OLED market grew only 0.7% in 2020, details revenue by company

UBI Research says that shipments of OLED displays reached 577.88 million in 2020, up 3.7% from 2019. Total OLED revenues in 2020 increased only 0.7% to $32.68 billion as average panel price was lower in 2020 (mostly in the smartphone market).

OLED revenue by company (2011-2020, UBI)

The main growth in the OLED industry in 2020 came from smartwatches and TVs markets. Smartphone and tablet display shipments actually decreased in 2020. In 2020, new market emerged - automotive displays, laptop displays and foldable devices.

EDO progresses towards its IPO, will use the funds to construct a new 6-Gen AMOLED fab

Earlier this month we reported that China-based AMOLED producer EverDisplay (EDO) has become a public company. We have been a bit early, but the company is progressing on its IPO registration and has released some more information regarding is business.

Everdisplay display revenues by application (2017-2020H1)

The company is raising 10 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion USD) and most of these funds will be used to construct the company's new 6-Gen AMOLED line. As you can see in the image above, almost all the company's OLED panels are used in smartphones and wearables. But in 2020 the company also started to produce laptop and tablet displays - EDO recently started to make 11", 12.8" and 15.6" rigid and foldable AMOLED displays for laptop devices. We list many EDO OLED displays in the OLED Marketplace.

Kopin ships its first 720p OLED microdisplays

Kopin Corporation announced that it has shipped its first commercial order of its 0.49-inch 720p (1280x720) OLED microdisplays. The customer is a US company that will use the displays in public safety applications.

Kopin 720 Lightning OLED microdisplay photo

Kopin's 0.49-inch OLED microdisplays use the company's ColorMax technology for superb color fidelity and a duo-stack OLED structure for high current efficiency (over 10 candela per ampere).

DSCC details the OLED smartwatch panel market in 2020

DSCC posted an interesting chart that details OLED smartwatch shipments by supplier. This is an interesting market as there are almost 10 suppliers with no dominant player:

OLED smartwatch shipments by supplier (DSCC, 2017-2020)

In fact DSCC says that there are five different OLED panel makers (BOE, SDC, LGD, EDO and Truly) that each has a market share over 10% in 2020.

DSCC sees OLED revenues reaching $31.9 in 2020, Q4 will be an all-time-high

DSCC says that OLED panel revenues will reach almost $12 billion in Q4 2020 - reaching an all-time high (up 46% from Q4 2019) as all the major OLED markets, smartphones, TVs and smartwatches, saw increased demand.

OLED panel revenue 2016-2020 (DSCC, December 2020)

One of the major drivers for the increased Q4 demand was Apple's later-than-usual release date which pushed orders into Q4 from Q3, and an earlier Samsung S21 release which meant SDC started producing panels for Samsung Electronics's upcoming flagship as early as November. DSCC estimates that Apple will account for 57% of all OLED smartphone panel revenues in the quarter.

Here are Oppo's new rollable phone and OLED AR glasses prototypes

Yesterday Oppo hosted its Oppo INNO Day 2020, during which it unveiled two interesting concept devices. First up is the Oppo X, a rollable OLED smartphone that can open up to increase the display size:

When closed the Oppo X has a 6.7-inch AMOLED, and when rolled open it can reach 7.4 inches. Inside the phone the display scrolls around a 6.8mm 'scroll motor'. Oppo says it applied 122 patents for this specific phone, with 12 patents protecting the scroll mechanism. This is still just a concept, and Oppo did not disclose any commercialization plans.

Will Sony supply OLED microdisplays for Apple's future AR device?

According to rumors from Japan, Sony is set to supply Apple with OLED Microdisplays for Apple's future AR headset project. The rumors did not include more information than that...

Sony ECX339A OLED Microdisplay photo

Apple (like all other consumer electronics giants) is very active with AR R&D, as many believe that AR headsets will be very popular in the future and may replace smartphones. While I'm a bit skeptical about this technology, it is evident that many companies are increasing their R&D efforts in this field.

UBI: the COVID pandemic decreased demand for OLED smartphone displays, while demand for wearable displays have risen sharply

UBI Research estimates that OLED shipments in the first half of 2020 were 231 million units ($13.2 billion), pretty much the same as in the first half of 2019 (230 million, $13.8 billion). UBI estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic decreased demand for OLED displays.

OLED shipments and revenues (1H19 to 1H20, UBI)

Looking at market segmentation, OLED shipments for smartphones decreased from 200.4 million units to 189.8 million units. Foldable phones increased from 70,000 units to 1.7 million units, and smartwatch display shipments increased sharply from 22 million units in the first half of 2019 to 33.5 million in the first half of 2020.

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