The beginnings of head-mounted displays (HMDs) date back to the 1960s. In the 1990s, further-developed data glasses, which were initially conceived in the entertainment/gaming sector, were primarily used in professional scenarios, for example in pilot training or robot programming. Today, data glasses and HMDs have become indispensable in the midst of the age of industry 4.0 in production, maintenance and the medical sector.
For more than ten years, the Fraunhofer FEP has been developing applications and displays based on OLED-on-silicon technology that are predestined for use in data glasses and HMDs. In the meantime, a whole series of OLED microdisplays has been developed, the parameters of which scientists are continuously improving. Projects such as the publicly funded "Glass@Service" project focused specifically on the development of AR data glasses. To this end, the scientists have now evaluated the requirements for OLED microdisplays suitable for industrial use.
The Fraunhofer FEP already covers some of these applications with existing OLED microdisplays: Wearables use a look-around display with a relatively low resolution and refresh rate, which is intended to score points in the application due to its very high brightness and extremely low power consumption. VR applications have completely different requirements - the institute has developed a high-resolution WUXGA microdisplay with 2.3 million pixels and 1 inch screen diagonal.
This portfolio is now supplemented by a new generation of OLED microdisplays that are specially designed to meet the requirements of industrial AR data glasses. Philipp Wartenberg, Department Manager for IC and System Design, says: "Our new 720p microdisplay is characterized by high frame rates and high contrast ratios based on OLED-on-silicon technology. At the same time, it offers low power consumption and thus meets an important criterion for AR applications. With a resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels, a screen diagonal of 0.64 inches and a subpixel size of 5.5 micrometers, it offers high-quality images at a low power consumption of 160 milliwatts at a frame rate of 120 Hertz.".
In addition to the display parameters, the new OLED microdisplay will offer simple control for uncomplicated integration into portable systems and is also available as an evaluation kit. The Fraunhofer FEP cooperates with partners such as Siemens, UVEX and Ubimax. A first prototype of a HMD with transparent optics for AR applications in industry is already equipped with the 720p display.