Apple has reached a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) in order to develop ultra-advanced display technology, likely for the augmented reality products it has in development. That’s according to a report Wednesday from Nikkei Asia.
The deal will entail the development of micro OLED displays, and represents a partnership between two companies that have long worked together. TSMC is long supplied chips to Apple, including for iPhones.
The new technology will be built at a facility in Taiwan. Apple already has a complex at Longtan Science Park, consisting of “several unmarked white buildings,” and the company is believed to be using the facility to make micro LED technology.
The companies are teaming up, per the Nikkei report, because “micro OLED displays are not built on glass substrates like the conventional LCD screens in smartphones and TVs, or OLED displays used in high-end smartphones. Instead, these new displays are built directly onto wafers—the substrates that semiconductors are fabricated on.”
“Panel players are good at making screens bigger and bigger, but when it comes to thin and light devices like AR glasses, you need a very small screen,” a source with “direct information on the micro OLED R&D project” told Nikkei. ”Apple is partnering with TSMC to develop the technology because the chipmaker’s expertise is making things ultra-small and good, while Apple is also leveraging panel experts’ know-how on display technologies.”
A report last month stated that Apple is working on both augmented reality and virtual reality products for the near- and long-term. The Bloomberg News report stated that Apple is working on a virtual reality headset, that it hoped to debut on the market as soon as 2022, and that the company also had plans for augmented-reality glasses, a product that is seen as being further off. The headset was described in the Bloomberg News article as “a pricey, niche precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product that will take longer to develop.”
The VR product, which still has hurdles, according to the report, would be priced somewhere between $300 and $900, which would make it more expensive than such existing rivals as Sony’s PlayStation VR and the Facebook-owned Oculus brand. The glasses, meanwhile, would appear to be a more advanced version of Google Glass.
Apple has frequently been in the news in recent weeks in relation to its reported plans to eventually make an Apple car. After weeks of conflicting reports over whether Apple would be getting into business on the car with South Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, those talks were reportedly off as of earlier this week.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.