Apple has been rumored to be working on MicroLED technology for displays at a secret facility in Calif., but a new report indicates it’s also developing custom displays overseas for at least two devices, one of which could launch as early as this year.
Your next Apple Watch could ship with an entirely new type of panel, according to DigiTimes. Luke Lin, the media outlet’s senior analyst, says Apple enlisted the help of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to join in making MicroLED panels for a new smartwatch as well as an augmented reality wearable. The AR device is likely far off from debuting, but Lin believes an Apple Watch with the technology could arrive in 2018.
Both products have small displays, with the future Apple Watch’s measuring between 1.3 and 1.4 inches. The AR device, meanwhile, could be a pair of smart glasses since the panel measures 0.7 to 0.8 inches.
There isn’t a set schedule for production of the AR device’s panels, but Apple would like to get large-size panels into mass production next year. The company is said to be interested in using them for devices with displays larger than MacBooks. If that’s true, MicroLED technology could be brought to iMac and possibly a connected television.
Because the technology is relatively new, a high-end model of the Apple Watch would be the exclusive home to MicroLED to start. As of now, MicroLED technology is many times more expensive than panels based on OLED technology.
Apple is also reportedly working on custom processors for the Mac, which could replace Intel’s units by 2020. It seems the company’s goal for the next decade is to transition from a reliance on suppliers to co-developing components for all products. While it’ll always need assistance in some areas, Apple would be able to reduce costs and fatten margins.
If there’s something to keep an eye on, it’s the Apple Watch Series 4. That could be where we see groundbreaking display technology launch later this year.