Last year, Kopin announced its strategy to take on the needs of the VR industry. The company revealed the Lightning OLED Microdisplay, which boasts an on-silicon design with no glass to speak of. Kopin said that the lack of glass enables it to shrink the display smaller than its competition can. Last year, Kopin showed off a 1" square display for VR headsets that offered 2048 x 2048 pixels with RGB subpixels. This year, Kopin is back with a new panel that features a lower resolution, but higher brightness. The new panel is also 0.5" smaller.
“We are pleased with the rapid progress in our OLED displays,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, Kopin’s president, and CEO. “Using our proprietary backplane technology and the efforts of our OLED foundry partner Olightek, we have made significant brightness improvements in a very short period of time. We introduced our first OLED microdisplay on silicon, 2k x 2k Lightning display, at last year’s CES and it generated tremendous enthusiasm among the VR community. Now we introduce a new 720p display for mobile entertainment applications, and we are excited that our partner Pico Interactive has already designed it into the “Eagle” Mobile Theater, a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree.”
Kopin designed the new OLED Lightening Microdisplay for head-mounted entertainment devices, but not VR devices. The high-resolution displays that Kopin demonstrated last year operated at up to 120Hz to deliver a comfortable VR experience. The new microdisplays feature much lower resolution, and they refresh at 60Hz. These slower panels would not fare well in a VR headset, but they should work well for passive entertainment headsets, like the Vuzix iWear, which is exactly what Kopin plans to build them for.
Kopin partnered with Pico Interactive (which recently announced the Pico Neo CV Snapdragon 835-powered self-contained VR headset) to build a portable home theater headset for the China market.
“Today we unveil the fruits of our partnership with Pico Interactive - a truly game-changing experience that finally lets people bring that home theater experience anywhere they go,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, Kopin’s President, and CEO. “Whether you’re a sports enthusiast who can’t miss the game, in the middle of binge watching a season of your latest favorite show, or a commuter looking to pass the time watching YouTube videos, consumers can enjoy their video content on the go without the compromises of watching on a tiny phone screen.”
Kopin said that it developed the concept for the Project Eagle headset, which it licensed to Pico. The Project Eagle headset features two Kopin Lightning OLED Microdisplays that provide a simulated 80" large-format image. The headset also features integrated headphones to offer a complete home theater experience.
“By combining Kopin’s technologies and expertise with our high-end audio, manufacturing and marketing capabilities, we can deliver a fantastic new experience for consumers,” said Henry Zhou, CEO of Pico Interactive. “Kopin’s innovative designs and powerful components have allowed us to create a new product that will truly disrupt mobile entertainment. Eagle meets a real market need, and Pico will continue to explore additional innovative new products with Kopin’s industry-leading microdisplays and concept designs.”
Kopin also announced that it partnered with Yunnan OLiGHTEK Opto-electronics Technology Co. Ltd. (Olightek) to manufacture the Lightning OLED Microdisplays. Kopin expects production, which will take place at one of Olightek’s existing facilities, to begin in Q2. Olightek also recently formed a joint venture with BOE Technology Group and secured land in Kunming, China to build the world’s largest factory for OLED on silicon displays. The two companies expect the facility to be operational by mid-2019, which should boost Kopin’s annual production capacity to 1 million OLED microdisplays per year.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.