Report: Apple Developing MicroLED Screens for Wearables and AR

In-house development teams at Apple are reportedly working on a new type of display technology -- microLED -- that could soon appear in some of the company's high-end wearables, such as the Apple Watch, as well other devices.

Citing unnamed "people familiar with the situation," Bloomberg last month reported that Apple is producing a small number of microLED test screens at a secret factory near its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. That report was backed up by new research this week from Digitimes, which said Apple is developing both small- and large-screen microLED displays that could be used in the Apple Watch (pictured above), wearables with augmented reality, and Mac devices.

MicroLED technology promises to deliver even higher-quality images than today's leading display tech, the OLED (organic light-emitting diode). Still in the early stages of development, microLED displays use tiny, individual LEDs to produce individual pixels in an image and are more energy-efficient, brighter, and longer-lasting than other display technologies.

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Today, Taiwan-based Digitimes Research reported that Apple is working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to produce small microLED panels for use in the Apple Watch and other wearables. Apple could start mass-producing small panels later this year or sometime in 2019, and could be ready to manufacture larger microLED displays as early as 2019, according to senior analyst Luke Lin.

"However, Lin believes Apple will only adopt the [microLED] panel in the top-of-the-line models of its upcoming Apple Watch series initially," Digitimes noted. "The costs of the new [microLED] panels are 400-600% higher than those of the existing Apple Watch's same-size OLED panels, Lin estimates."

In its March 18 report on Apple's secret microLED production facility, Bloomberg said the program represents "the latest example of Apple bringing the design of key components in-house." The company has...

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