Foxconn-Sharp to Acquire a U.S. Micro-LED Display Startup
In April Patently Apple posted a report titled "Foxconn to make 'Capital Intensive' Investment in the U.S. that will be revealed at a Special Event this Summer." Foxconn is one of the Vision Fund contributors along with Apple and SoftBank. The fund played a role over the weekend with the U.S. President and Saudi Arabia signing a deal for $93 billion to invest in U.S. technology. SoftBank's Chief Masayoshi Son followed the President to Saudi Arabia who was behind the deal. Today we learning about another potential deal with Foxconn and a U.S. company.
The Nikkei is reporting today that "Sharp and other Hon Hai Precision Industry group companies will acquire an American startup working on next-generation display technology, aiming to commercialize products such as large displays for which liquid crystals are less suited.
The Japanese electronics maker will team with CyberNet Venture Capital, panel maker Innolux and Advanced Optoelectronic Technology to buy Delaware-based eLux in October, Sharp said Monday. All of the acquirers are owned by or affiliated with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn.
The American startup develops technology for micro-LED displays, which consist of small, light-emitting diodes. The company was established in October 2016 by researchers formerly employed at Sharp research facilities in the U.S.
Sharp will hold a share of just over 30% in eLux, a stake valued at $7 million, in exchange for related patents.
There's intense interest of late for micro-LED displays. Patently Apple posted a report on this earlier this month titled "Samsung Seeks to Join the Micro-LED Display Race along with Apple, Sony and Oculus." Last month we covered another report titled "Korea's Deep Paranoia is Setting in as Apple Considers a Supply Shift to China and Apple Watch 3 Shifts to Micro-LED."
Korea's OLED display manufacturers are paranoid that Apple will kick-start micro-LED for a future Apple Watch. This is where experts believe micro-LED displays will begin in 2018 and steadily ramp-up to other products as the chart from Yole Development illustrates above.
Earlier this month 'Yole Development' put out a document supporting the chart above. They noted that "Micro-light emitting diodes or MicroLED are an emissive display technology. Just like OLED, they offer high contrast, high speed, and wide viewing angle. However, they could also deliver wider color gamut, dramatic – orders of magnitude – higher brightness, significantly reduced power consumption and improved lifetime, ruggedness and environmental stability.
In addition, MicroLEDs allow the integration of sensors and circuits, enabling thin displays with embedded sensing capabilities such as fingerprint identification and gesture control.
The first MicroLED commercial product was unveiled by Sony in 2016 in the form of a small-pitch LED video display where traditional packaged LEDs are replaced by MicroLEDs. The first consumer killer-app could come in the form of smartwatches, propelled by Apple, and its acquisition of LuxVue.
MicroLEDs could also eventually dominate augmented and mixed reality displays thanks to their unique ability to deliver both the brightness and low power consumption required for the application." Of course that translates to a head mounted display with MicroLEDs. "
In the end, the industry believes Apple will be the first to introduce a commercial product with MicroLEDs and so it becomes interesting that Foxconn-Sharp want to invest billions in an LCD plant in the U.S. that may also move into MicroLED production by acquiring eLux.
Last week Patently Apple posted a patent report about an Apple/LuxVue invention relating to both Micro-LED displays for future products like a smartwatch and TV. The drumbeat for Micro-LED displays is getting louder by the week.
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