Google & Sharp Developing 20-Megapixel Micro Display

Google More Pixels

Tech giant Google is working with Sharp on a 20-megapixel per eye micro display for use with augmented reality and virtual reality devices, according to a keynote delivered by Googler Clay Bavor at the Society of Information Display’s Display Week. The project has been going on for some time now, but it’s been top secret up until this announcement. Bavor, the Vice President of Google’s AR and VR efforts, stood beside a banner showing off past VR technologies, which ultimately changed to an announcement that “way, way more pixels” were needed for proper VR and AR. The announced product would output vastly more pixels per eye than current VR solutions, meaning that it would fit that mantra rather well.

The announcement did not include a lot of technical information on how the display would work, but did list a few features that would come with it, alongside the massive pixel count. Google plans to make VR and AR a bit smoother by using a rolling backlight in some applications, for starters. The kicker is that Google and Sharp are apparently working on an LCD display that’s capable of 90-120 frames per second, refresh rates usually associated with OLED displays. If this project succeeds, the potential for cost saving and energy efficiency is high enough that it could actually affect the display market at large by increasing previously waning demand for LCD screens.

Speaking on the matter of how this advancement may be used, Bavor went on to explain that the incredible display resolutions being developed would call for high data throughput for VR and AR content, especially at high enough frame rates to appear acceptably smooth. Specifically, the 90 to 120 frames per second being called for, at 20 megapixels per eye, would call for data transfer rates of roughly 50 to 100 gigabits per second. These are speeds that are not possible on current hardware, which means that Google and Sharp’s planned displays would not be able to work at their full potential with current technologies. No date was announced for when this system may become available to consumers, but Bavor did state that he had laid eyes on prototypes in a lab setting, and was thoroughly impressed.