The following article is based on fact, or at least statements of the events via company press releases and a mild sprinkling of my opinion.
In a press release from a company called eMagin. They made some interesting claims. Before we go into their claims, who are eMagin and what do they do?
Who are eMagin?
Founded in 1996 and based in Bellevue WA. eMagin have developed products for military, medical, law enforcement, remote presence, industrial, computer interface, gaming, and entertainment. One of their areas of expertise is the design and manufacture of eMagin’s OLED Microdisplays.
What are OLED Microdisplays?
OLED on Silicon, as shown in the diagram above is eMagin's key product.
Here are some key technical details on the eMagin OLED microdisplays:
- <1µ Second Response Time
- No Backlight Required
- 10,000:1 Contrast Ratio
- 1,000 to 1,500 Times Faster than LCD
- Reduces Eye Fatigue and Headaches
What we know
From eMagin's press release for their Q4 2016 earnings. They announced they expect some increased earnings in 2017 as they start to ship prototype products for consumer HMD (Head mounted displays)
“I am pleased to announce that we recently signed an additional, multi-million dollar agreement with another major Tier 1 consumer electronics company. We now have in place multiple agreements with commercial partners for next generation prototype products for consumer HMD’s and expect a considerable boost to 2017 revenue from our commercial efforts, including approximately $1.5 million that we expect to recognize in the first quarter of 2017. As we continue to enhance our technological advantage through direct patterning, I believe that we are gaining the recognition we deserve for having the most comprehensive suite of high-performance OLED microdisplays in the market today,”
Said Andrew Sculley, President, and Chief Executive Officer.
Then later in the press release the fact that some 2K x 2K samples were sent to a leading consumer product company in 2016. However, the highlight of the statement is that "Products are expected to be available for customers during the second quarter of 2017."
Produced samples of 2K x 2K full-color RGB microdisplay project to a leading consumer product company for evaluation in December 2016. Products are expected to be available for customers during the second quarter of 2017.
What does 2K x 2K Mean Anyway and is this 4K?
Unlike TVs and Monitors which state their overall resolution. VR Headsets are often measured per eye. The resolution of a 4K TV is 3840 × 2160.
In the case of the eMagin Microdisplay, each display is 2K x 2K, meaning 2048 x 2048 pixels. When you have two of them, then the headset with both displays will provide you 2048 x 4096 of complete resolution. Meaning the headset is a 4K headset.
How does this compare with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive?
Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have a resolution of 1080 x 1200 per eye, meaning the headset has a total resolution of 2160 x 1200. Both of these refresh 90 times per second which is 90 Hz. With the eMagin headset at 2048 x 4096 and rumored to be at 120 Hz. Then the quality regarding resolution will be vastly superior.
When can we expect 2K x 2K Per Eye VR Headsets?
"...available for customers during the second quarter of 2017."
Q2 2017 gives us a splendid time target. This period covers April, May, and June. So what events are coming up over the next three months when a new product could be announced?
VR World Congress April 11- 13
VR World Congress runs from April 11 - 13. Interestingly, the event is primarily sponsored by AMD. Ron Taylor, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Marketing at AMD will be one of the key speakers.
Perhaps the new VR headset is from AMD?
Ron has already stated in previous presentations AMD are working on 4K headsets, jump to 16:40 in the following video:
AWE (Augmented World Expo) May 31 - June 2
AWE (Augmented World Expo) is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality).
E3 June 13 - 15
E3 is the big gaming event of the year, and VR is a massive part of it. However, I find it less likely new products will be announced at E3, but it is within the timeframe of Q2.
So there you have it. It seems, probably something new and exciting is coming, and coming soon.
P.S. For those wondering, the picture at the top is a prototype headset from eMagin shown at AWE in 2016.