Google Buys Hardware Startup Raxium To Fuel AR Ambitions


Google has struck a deal to buy MicroLED Raxium, a five-year-old startup developing tiny light-emitting diodes for displays used in augmented and mixed reality devices. It’s unclear how much Google will pay, but the startup was said to be valued as much as $1 billion during acquisition talks.

MicroLED is an emerging technology limited to expensive and large screens, like wall-mounted signage, but LG did announce a 136-inch 4K HDR model at CES that’s expected to arrive this year. It’s inorganic (similar to LCD) but with OLED qualities like brightness and good colour fidelity. The most important aspect of this display technology is energy efficiency, which is needed for constrained, face-mounted wearables.

This acquisition is meant to further Google’s work in mixed reality headsets and AR glasses, so it’s unclear whether other first-party hardware, like Pixel phones, will benefit from microLED down the road. “Google has realised you can’t just own the operating system”, and the company will continue to make purchases.

Apple (in 2014), Snap, and Meta have all made microLED acquisitions in the past, with Raxium’s claim to fame being a different, more traditional manufacturing technique that could drive down cost. That said, it hasn’t released a commercial product yet.

Raxium has previously said that it is working on “monolithic integration” of micro LEDs, the ability to manufacture them on the same kind of standard, cheap silicon used to produce most microchips. If successful, that method would substantially drive down costs.