Some big names are ponying up millions of dollars to own a piece of eMagin, a producer of miniature organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays that have mostly been deployed to military, medical, and industrial fields. In a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), eMagin announced a new stock issuance with Apple, LG, Valve, and others investing over $10 million into the relatively small outfit.
The company released a subsequent statement indicating an upsized $11.5 million underwritten public offering, of which it expects to net $10.6 million. It intends to use the proceeds for "working capital and general corporate purposes." More specifically, eMagin has been increasingly interested in expanding its footprint into augmented reality and virtual reality markets, which would explain the interest from the likes of Apple and other technology heavyweights.
"We believe that a key growth area for us is the consumer electronic OEM market for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) hardware," eMagin states in its prospectus. "Our potential channels to this market include licensing of our direct patterning technology and partnering for the mass production of microdisplays."
Among the company's handful of products is a 2K resolution (2048x2048) OLED microdisplay with a fill factor of over 70 percent, designed specifically for the VR market. According to eMagin, this display eliminates the so-called screen door effect that plagues headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. If you're not familiar, the screen door effect describes the ability to discern individual pixels, an unwanted side effect of cramming a display just inches from your eyeballs.
"We believe that our direct patterning technology is a key differentiator for enabling next generation AR/VR hardware for the consumer and enterprise segments because of the brightness and the pixel density afforded by the technology," eMagin added.
The combined investment from Apple, LG, and Valve is rather small, but could pay off in a big way if eMagin is truly able to eliminate the screen door effect and license its technology to other players. eMagin also mentions having negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities, which might also have drawn these companies in.