We talk Micro-LED technology and market with Yole Développement

Market research firm Yole Développement has been following the Micro-LED market for some years with some very interesting insights and forecasts.

Zine Bouhamri photo (Yole)

Yole's technology & market analyst Zine Bouhamri was kind enough to discuss Yole's Micro-LED views with us. Mr. Zine is is a member of the Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole and he's deeply involved in the business development of the Displays unit activities.

San'an Optoelectronics to set up its first micro-LED wafer production line in Q1 2019

According to Digitimes, China-based Sa'nan Optoelectronics is gearing up to setup its first micro-LED epitaxial wafer and chip production line in Q1 2019. San'an developed 20-micron micro-LEDs, and the company is now aiming to develop 4-micron LEDs and 10-micro LED flip-chips.

According to the report, San'an aims to start small-volume micro-LED production to be used for wearables, automotive taillights and large-area displays. The company's green and blue micro-LEDs are ready for commercialization, but its red chips still require development.

n-Tech sees a very bright future for Micro-LED displays, starting in 2019

n-tech Research says that the Micro-LED market will emerge in 2019, with sales reaching $2.7 billion. The market will grow very quickly to reach over $70 billion in 2027.

MicroLED display market forecast (2018-2027, n-Tech)

n-Tech says that the immediate markets for Micro-LED displays will be near-eye displays (AR/VR), automotive HUDs and projectors - as these will benefit mostly from the small size, low weight, high brightness and high resolution of Micro-LED displays. Wearables (smartwatches) is another lucrative market (n-Tech sees $1.6 billion in smartwatch Micro-LED display sales in 2022).

Vuzix and Plessey to co-develop MicroLED based AR glasses, aiming to commercialize a first device by 2019

UK-based GaN-on-Si MicroLED developer Plessey Semiconductor announced that it has partnered with AR supplier Vuzix to develop advanced Micro-LED display engines for Vuzix waveguide optics to enable next generation AR Smart Glasses. Vuzix expects to introduce the Micro-LED microdisplay based AR glasses in 2019.

Plessey MicroLED HUD prototype (CES 2018)

Vuzix says that Plessey's Quanta-Brite light engine is highly efficient and bright, and will enable smaller and more efficient AR devices. The Quanta-Brite engine is based on Plessey's advanced and proprietary gallium-nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology, with an integrated monolithic array of RGB pixels with advanced micro-optical elements.

Digitimes: Apple is collaborating with TSMC on Wearable/VR/laptop Micro-LED displays, first displays will enter production by early 2019

Earlier this month Bloomberg reported that Apple is progressing with its Micro-LED development project, and has already managed to produce promising display samples. Now Taiwan's Digitimes reports that Apple is collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) towards mass production of Micro-LED panels.

Apple Watch photo

Apple and TSMC are focusing on small-sized micro-LEDs on silicon based backplanes, targeting both wearable devices and AR applications. The Micro-LED microdisplays for AR applications will be around 0.7-0.8 inch in size, while the wearable panels will be larger at 1.3-1.4 inch.

Bloomberg: Apple's Micro-LED project is progressing, managed to produce its own Micro-LED samples

According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple is making good progress in its Micro-LED development project, and has managed to produce promising display samples. Apple is seeking to use Micro-LED displays in future wearable products.

Apple display facility (Santa Clara, California - Bloomberg)Apple display facility, Santa Clara, CA

Apple is not likely to become a MicroLED producer, and it will seek partners to eventually produce the displays. However controlling the basic technology could be very beneficial to Apple that aims to be the only company able to use Micro-LED displays - starting in wearables, but also perhaps in smartphones and VR HMDs. In any case, Bloomberg reports that it will still take a few years before Apple's technology is ready for production.

Digitimes: Micro-LEDs low aperture ratio makes them competitive for smart displays

Digitimes posted an interesting research note, in which they state that micro-LED displays may find it hard to compete with LCD and OLED displays as the market is approaching saturation.

Micro-LEDs have several advantages over other displays - high brightness, quick response time and the ability to create flexible and transparent displays (this is also true for OLEDs). However a major advantage for Micro LEDs is that the aperture ratio is only 10%, which means that there is a lot of empty space in a micro-LED display.