Fans of VR often complain about the “screen door” effect, where the unlit space between each pixel creates the sensation that you’re looking through a mesh. But Samsung and Stanford could eliminate the “screen door” with experimental newOLED technology. NewOLED tech supports resolutions up to 10,000PPI—an outrageous pixel density that’s perfect for VR applications.
In the coming years, Samsung and Stanford’s newOLED technology will live alongside the two types of OLED displays that are popular today. The most common, called RGB OLED, designates a red, green, or blue emitter for each sub-pixel. Each emitter works together to fill out pixels on-screen.
RGB OLED is easy to manufacture and works best with pixel-dense displays, such as smartphones. But both large and small devices contain the popular (and power-hungry) white OLED displays. Each sub-pixel in a white OLED display contains a sandwich of red, green, and blue emitters, which combine to produce white light. A filter then adjusts the white light to a determined color, which resonates through the pixels.
Existing RGB OLED and white OLED technology is affordable and effective, but it isn’t suited for VR. Your eyes can see the space between each pixel, leading to the famous “screen door” effect that takes some of the “reality” out of virtual reality headsets.
Samsung and Stanford’s newOLED technology aims to solve the “screen door” problem by increasing pixel density in the funkiest way possible. Rather than cramming more emitters in an already cramped panel, researchers are using a layer of reflective material with tiny nano-sized grooves to manipulate light. This “optical metasurface” controls the reflective properties of light and allows different colors to resonate in each pixel.
The end result is a 10,000PPI display that’s brighter and less power-hungry than conventional OLED panels. Researchers at Stanford suggest that newOLED technology could appear in VR headsets, phones, and even TVs in the near-future, as Samsung is perusing a “full-sized” version of the experimental newOLED panels fabricated in the lab.