Sony Announces Near Eye OLED Display Module

Mobile Displays – In the run up to next month’s International Consumer Electronics Show (January 6-9, 2015, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) Sony has announced a compact, lightweight, near-eye OLED display module.  Sony plans to put the display module on public view in the firm’s CES booth where it will be exhibited in the form of a “concept model called ‘SmartEyeglass Attach!’ which proposes one potential use for the module and is meant to be attached to sports eyewear pieces.”  Sony will also make available to developers a software development kit (SDK) for the display module with the intention to facilitate application development.

Sony appears to be pursuing a different approach to market development for near eye displays as compared for example to Google’s Glass eyeglass display.  In the case of Glass, Google has relatively tightly controlled both the product’s physical design and applications.  Sony with a good deal of prior experience in the head mounted display space is now approaching the developer community with a head mounted display, controller and communications platform (see photos below) which Sony hopes will enable developers to explore and validate new eyeglass display use cases.

Sony 1

Source: Sony

The new Sony OLED microdisplay module (illustrated below) incorporates a 0.23 inch diagonal RGB (640×400 pixel) OLED display panel providing 24 bit color, color space of 100% sRGB, with a maximum brightness of 800 cd/m2.   The newly developed Sony OLED microdisplay panel which measures 10.2 mm x 7.9 mm has both smaller pixels and a higher aperture ratio than Sony’s prior designs as shown below.

Source: Sony

The optical unit shown above that directs light from the OLED microdisplay to the user’s eye provides a viewing angle of 13 degrees.  Sony states that “The image size was thus designed to be optimal for use as a sub-window, providing you with necessary information without impeding your view of the real world around you,” which is similar in concept to the design intent of Google’s Glass.  Together, the OLED microdisplay, optical unit and control board weigh 40 grams.  The controller incorporates an ARM Cortex-A7 processor, an electronic compass, accelerometer, touch sensor, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi networking, and a 400 mAh battery.

Sony, having worked on various headmounted display products over time and having learned from the Google Glass experience, is clearly out to engage the developer community to assist the firm with defining acceptable applications of its technology.  Sony’s own words describe their approach in some detail stating:

“Sony is preparing a software development kit (SDK) for this display module in order to facilitate application development. It is thereby moving forward with a glasses-style smart device solutions business that could see the module being adapted to a wide variety of uses, given its high processing power. With the SDK, developers will be able to create dedicated apps tailored to specific uses. They can choose either to load an app onto the module itself, thereby enabling the device to be used independently of any other hardware, or to load an app onto a smartphone, thereby allowing the device to be used in tandem with a smartphone over a wireless connection. Sony therefore aims to promote development of novel uses for glasses-style smart devices that capitalize on the power of the module’s arithmetic unit and Wi-Fi functionality, such as with applications that access data in the cloud or that link with infrastructure systems. Along with the SDK, Sony will also release the display module’s communication specifications, enabling developers to wirelessly pair it with a wide range of other devices aside from smartphones. This will make possible a whole new level of potential ways to use the module that could provide users with even greater convenience.”

By making available their new microdisplay module, controller hardware and SDK, Sony is attempting to ignite new product applications and opportunities that have thus far largely eluded headmounted display developers.   - Phil Wright

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