Facebook continued its trend of buying up virtual reality-centric properties, adding Ireland-based InfiniLED to its portfolio under Oculus this week.
InfiniLED was founded in 2010 under the Tyndall National Institute, a “research hub specializing in photonics and micro/nanoelectronics that’s aligned with University College Cork” in Ireland, according to VentureBeat. After commercializing, the company’s biggest asset — and most likely the target of Oculus’ acquisition — has become its work and experience with ILED (inorganic LED, or MicroLED) technology. The value of the deal has not been made public and the startup has less than 20 employees, Silicon Republic reported.
While InfiniLED’s technology has a ways to go, The Irish Times reports that ILED allows for high-quality displays with heavily reduced power consumption, “extending the battery life for portable devices such as cameras, mobile phones and laptops,” and soon, presumably, VR devices.
“The InfiniLED displays consume 20-40 times less power than normal LCD and OLED displays and are capable of producing four times more light with better contrast and colour range,” The Irish Times added.
But while users might see immediate benefits on the hardware side, as of now “the expense of manufacturing [ILED] has led to them being used mainly in niche applications such as billboard-size displays for sports arenas,” according to the MIT Technology Review. “What’s more, the manufacturing process for making inorganic LED displays is complex, because each LED must be individually cut and placed,” John Rogers, a materials science professor in the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told the Review.
New printing processes, however, could help to bring down the cost of ILED technology, bringing the advantages of lower power consumption in higher quality displays to everyday technology.
On the acquisition, Tyndall chief executive Dr. Kieran Drain said it’s exciting to see that Oculus appreciates both the technology and the strength of the ecosystem that the InfiniLED team sits in.
“A key impact of this acquisition will be to increase global awareness that Ireland has technology and research of this calibre, and we anticipate further interactions with companies looking to merge hardware and software in efficient solutions, particularly for new devices that advance consumer electronics and the industrial internet,” he said.