Facebook is taking an important step towards releasing its first AR headset, as the company has signed an exclusivity agreement with UK-based AR display maker Plessey to supply the company with microLED displays.

“We have decided to work with Facebook to help achieve their vision of the next computing platform centred around people,” Plessey says in a press statement. “Under a new commercial agreement, our LED manufacturing operations will be dedicated to helping Facebook prototype and develop new technologies for potential use in the AR/VR space.”

A report by The Information alleges that Apple was interested in acquiring Plessey, citing two people familiar with the matter. Facebook’s choice to not pursue an outright acquisition however, instead opting for an exclusive licensing agreement, was reportedly to avoid what could have been “intense regulatory scrutiny,” The Information maintains, which would have allegedly slowed down the process.

The commercial agreement is said to supply Facebook with AR displays over the course of several years.

Facebook is Building an AR Headset, Starting By Making a Digital Copy of the Real World

Facebook most recently acquired Scape Technologies, a London-based startup specializing in building a computer vision-based positioning system that is  to precisely determine the location of any camera device with more accuracy than GPS.

Plessey’s microLED displays are said to combine very high-density RGB pixel arrays with high-performance CMOS backplanes to produce what it calls “very high-brightness, low-power and high-frame-rate image sources” for AR and VR headsets.

Vuzix, a maker of smartglasses and AR headsets, entered into a similar agreement with Plessey last year, which at the time was said to simplify existing AR optical systems of red, green and blue light sources by replacing it with a single self-emitting display which has integrated micro-optical elements. At the time, Vuzix’s agreement was seeking to use Plessey’s displays to reduce size and weight of their headsets.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Andrew Jakobs

    It’s a shame vuzix never really moved forward with their VR glasses. Still have their VR920 glasses and their pre vuzix headset the Forte VFX-1 which still is a great formfactor (even though it’s large)..

    • kontis

      Same reason Sony trashed HMZ and switched to a Rift clone.
      It was a dead end. Nobody cared about those ridiculously low FOV HMDs.
      For consumers 80 deg is barely usable. For HMD experts that’s considered “wide FOV”.
      When DK1 was released those experts were laughing how bad it was. And it immediately sold much more units than any “true” HMD ever before in history…

      • mirak

        They give the best quality and resolution to watch movies.

  • Adrian Meredith

    This is really exciting, we really need a new display technology. Both OLED and LCD have too many drawbacks. OLED with its not true blackness (due to low persistence meaning they don’t ever fully turn off unlike normal oled screens), smearing, sde etc and LCD with its grey blacks.
    Unfortunately its sounds like its a few years off yet

    • Mei Ling

      There are also brightness issues with OLED; pump out too much and you end up reducing the lifespan of the organic diodes.