10/26/16

Samsung Display betting on VR, AR panels

Samsung Display is betting on panels for virtual reality and augmented reality to further expand its presence in the mobile OLED market, its top engineer said at a display seminar on Wednesday.

“We are expecting the mobile OLED market to grow thanks to the advent of new applications such as virtual reality and augmented reality,” Park Won-sang, Samsung Display’s principal engineer, said at the International Meeting on Information Display held in Seoul.

He said the shipment of virtual reality devices connected with smartphones would rise more than 10-fold to 66 million units in 2017 from 4 million units in 2013, citing data from ABI Research.

VR, a computer technology that uses software to generate realistic images and sounds, is being developed by global tech firms including Oculus, Sony, Apple and Google.

“We are viewing the VR technology as posing new challenges to overcome technical limitations,” the engineer said.

He picked the power consumption issue as the biggest challenge, citing his personal experience. While hunting Pokemon, he noticed that his smartphone battery ran out in two hours due to the GPS and camera constantly running and the panel set as bright as possible.

“Samsung Display is working to increase energy efficiency for high power consumption (of virtual reality),” Park said.

Despite the remaining obstacles, Samsung Display still has an edge over its arch rival LG Display in VR. This is because LG is still focused on LCD and not OLED, which is considered an ideal panel for VR headset as it makes the inside of the headset completely dark.

An LG Display engineer, who attended the seminar, said on condition of anonymity, “It seems we are around five years behind Samsung Display in the panels for virtual reality (due to mobile OLED capacity).”

Another future technology Samsung Display is betting on is augmented reality, the principal engineer said.

Augmented Reality is a technology enriching the real world with digital information and media.

“Our long-time concerns over AR’s market value have gone with the popularity of Pokemon Go,” Park said.

Pokemon Go, a location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic, has seen more than 500 million downloads globally since its rollout in June.

“We are viewing the augmented reality market as very important. It is an innovative technology, which combines the digital and real world,” the engineer said.

He said the company is working to solve eye problems, which many AR users complained about. As users have to focus on the panels from a short distance in a dark environment, they easily suffer from dry eyes and eye strain.

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