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CNET: What Is Micro-OLED? Apple Vision Pro's Screen Tech Explained

Geoffrey Morrison

Here's why Apple and its competitors are using a highly specialized version of OLED for virtual reality.

At WWDC 2023, Apple announced the Vision Pro, an AR/VR headset that offers an impressive amount of technology, and an equally imposing $3,499 price tag. One of the things that helps the Vision Pro stand out from cheaper products from Valve and Meta is the use of a new type of display called micro-OLED. More than just a rebranding by the marketing experts at Apple, micro-OLED is a variation on the screen technology that's become a staple of best TV lists over the last few years. 

Micro-OLED's main difference from "traditional" OLED is right in the name. Featuring far smaller pixels, micro-OLED has the potential for much, much higher resolutions than traditional OLED: think 4K TV resolutions on chips the size of postage stamps. Until recently, the technology has been used in things like electronic viewfinders in cameras, but the latest versions are larger and even higher resolution, making them perfect for AR and VR headsets.

Here's an in-depth look at this tech and where it could be used in the future. 

What's OLED?

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. The term "organic" means the chemicals that help the OLED create light incorporate the element carbon. The specific chemicals beyond that don't matter much, at least to us end users, but suffice it to say when they're supplied with a bit of energy, they create light.......

Where else will we see micro-OLED? At MWC 2023, Xiaomi announced its AR Glass Discovery Edition featured the technology, and future high-end VR headsets from Meta, HTC and others will likely use it. Currently, a company named Engo is using a tiny micro-OLED projector to display speed and other data on the inside of its AR sunglasses. I know I sure don't need these, but I want them. Then there's the many mirrorless and other cameras that have been using micro-OLED viewfinders for years.

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