Google's latest acquisition could signal a re-entry into AR/VR hardware

Google logo on a pair of AR concept glasses
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has acquired Raxium, a microLED display manufacturer for an unknown sum.
  • The potential $1 billion acquisition follows suit with a number of recent moves by Google to reenter the AR/VR space.
  • MicroLED displays are also useful for other types of wearables like smartwatches and foldable phones.

Google has officially acquired Raxium, a company that makes MicroLED displays. Google says Raxium was chosen for its work "creating miniaturized, cost-effective and energy-efficient high-resolution displays that have laid the foundation for future display technologies." In short, Google seems to want to make its own in-house displays for future products just as it began making chipsets for the Google Pixel 6 (opens in new tab) last year. Raxium was previously eyed by Snap, Meta, and Apple for the same reason.

Google's senior vice president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh, announced (opens in new tab) the acquisition in a rather unceremonious and short blog post. The brevity of the post insinuates that Google isn't ready to publicly share its plans to use Raxium's tech just yet, but that moment could be coming soon. The rumor (opens in new tab) that Google was going to buy Raxium came in March, about two months after the first rumors of Google's Project Iris (opens in new tab), a new AR/VR headset from the company, began making the rounds.

MicroLED displays are said to be the future of XR tech — that's the name used to encompass AR and VR technologies under a single umbrella — as they operate much like an OLED display without the potential burn-in issues. But while this specific purchase of a microLED company is said to revolve around Google's renewed hopes of creating new XR hardware, it's also possible that we could see it in the upcoming Pixel Watch (opens in new tab) and Pixel Fold (opens in new tab).

That's because, like OLED displays, microLED displays are flexible and can more easily be created in unconventional shapes and sizes - think a round smartwatch or a pair of smart glasses, for example - than an LCD display. Royole showed off (opens in new tab) its bendable, stretchable microLED tech this time last year proving the technology's worth for many wearable uses.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu