6 October 2022
MICLEDI and Kura partner on manufacturing AR glasses
MICLEDI Microdisplays B.V. of Leuven, Belgium – a fabless developer of micro-LED display modules for augmented reality (AR) glasses that was spun off from nanoelectronics research center IMEC in 2019 – and Silicon Valley-based AR headset developer Kura Technologies are collaborating to manufacture AR glasses. Based on Kura’s proprietary architecture from the chip level up, the new glasses are designed by Kura and incorporate MICLEDI’s unique 300mm micro-LED displays to achieve the performance required for Kura’s next generation of AR glasses.
MICLEDI’s technology is based on a combination of III/V materials processing, 3D integration and 300mm silicon-based processing combined with a proprietary ASIC to provide a self-contained, compact monolithic AR display with what is said to be high image quality and power efficiency.
The two companies have been working together for over a year, with MICLEDI providing Kura early access to advanced micro-LEDs under a closely held collaboration. Kura was one of the first customers to receive micro-LEDs from MICLEDI, enabling them to build and test its unique approach for driving and controlling micro-LED displays for AR glasses.
Under the partnership, MICLEDI will continue to provide Kura access to devices fabricated in its 200mm fab as well as provide Kura with early access to customized blue, green and red devices as they come from their 300mm wafer foundry.
“We’ve had a chance to visit Kura’s office in the Bay Area, meet their team and see their latest developments and demos,” says MICLEDI’s CEO Sean Lord. “We were very impressed by their progress over the years, the multi-disciplinary technical expertise and the field-of-view and clarity of their demos,” he adds.
“Kura’s fast-paced product engineering team has benefited tremendously from MICLEDI’s quick-turn 200mm prototype fabrication capability and responsive team of professional LED design and process experts,” comments Kura’s founder, CEO & CTO Kelly Peng. “MICLEDI is well positioned to achieve industry leadership in 300mm micro-LED fabrication, offering process advantages and direct compatibility with our high-performance custom 300mm backplane,” he believes.
According to the market analyst firm Yole, the global AR market is rising at a compounded annual growth rate of more than 30% over 2021-2027, reaching $88.4bn as it becomes the next consumer platform.
“In May of this year, we announced a partnership with GlobalFoundries to bring our proprietary 300mm micro-LED designs into high-volume, low-cost mass production,” says Lord. “Working with Kura should provide mutually attractive timing and mass-production ramp plans for both MICLEDI and GlobalFoundries.”
Picture: Kura’s customized AI-generated optics and glasses using MICLEDI micro-LED displays.
Kura says that its proprietary architecture enables dynamic defect correction, 100x resolution expansion, and can tolerate 10,000x the defect rate and 5x the uniformity variation of its competitors, enabling it to go to market with high-performance 8K AR glasses with micro-LED panels that can be fabricated now and in the next year, not several years from now.
“The partnership with GlobalFoundries allows us to take advantage of their expertise in large-scale, reliable manufacturing in order to reliably ramp our glasses to the 100,000s of units our customers are demanding,” says Kura’s co-founder & technical lead Bayley Wang, who says that Kura is the only AR company he’s aware of that is working with such a large foundry to build custom micro-displays. “Combined with the successful tape-out of our custom mixed-signal display driver IC, which is the world’s fastest micro-display driving IC at our partner TSMC, we’re on track to reliably build our displays and launch our product at scale.”