Google Acquires Raxium to Bolster AR Ambitions

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Google has announced the acquisition of microLED (LED) designer Raxium, adding to its portfolio of XR microdisplay designs and talent.

The Information first reported the acquisition in March, but Google has now confirmed in a blog post that it has indeed acquired Raxium, a five-year-old startup that creates microdisplays for use in AR and VR headsets.

According to the Information, Raxium was sold to Google for $1 billion, but official details of the transaction are still unknown. Raxium will join Google’s Devices & Services team, which is in charge of developing Google’s consumer devices.

Raxium is thought to enable Google to create lighter, less expensive displays for its upcoming AR devices. While traditional Super AMOLEDs found in smartphones measure around 50 m per pixel, Raxium claims to have shrunk its microdisplays to feature 3.5 m per pixel LED. According to the company, its technology has resulted in an efficiency “5X greater than the previously published world record.”

“The team at Raxium has spent five years creating miniaturized, cost-effective and energy efficient high-resolution displays that have laid the foundation for future display technologies. Raxium’s technical expertise in this area will play a key role as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts,”

says Rick Osterloh, senior VP of Google’s Devices & Services team.

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Google is undoubtedly planning to release some kind of XR headset in the future, which could compete with devices from Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and Snap. Google acquired North, a Canadian company known for producing unobtrusive prescription-compatible smartglasses that are far more stylish than Google Glass, in 2020. To learn more, read our primer on the differences between smart glasses and AR headsets.

Earlier this year, Google acquired Bernard Kress, the Microsoft HoloLens team’s principal optical architect. Kress is now the Director of XR Engineering at Google Labs, the company’s internal XR division that was established late last year. According to previous reports, Google Labs is currently working on an augmented reality headset codenamed Project Iris, which is expected to ship in 2024.

According to reports, Project Iris is a standalone experience with onboard power, computing, and outward-facing cameras for world sensing capabilities, similar in description and function to headsets such as HoloLens or Magic Leap.

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