Inside Digilens Lens Design Process

Waveguide Optics News Roundup

Waveguide optics are specially designed eyeglass lenses that mate with a display engine to deliver a virtual image to the wearer's eye. Availability of inexpensive, high-performing waveguide optics is a pre-requisite for a consumer AR market to blossom.

Here's some recent news on partnerships and funding for various solutions coming to market.
WaveOptics, an Abingdon-based technology start-up, has signed a deal to mass produce components known as waveguides for augmented reality (AR) glasses. Waveguides are lenses that guide light from a tiny projector to the glass of AR devices allowing virtual objects to be overlaid on the real-world.
They are currently used in AR headsets sold by companies such as Microsoft and Magic Leap.
Wave Yole
Partnering with a large business like Goertek, whose customers include Samsung, Sony and Google, will allow WaveOptics to reduce the cost of its components.
WaveOptics said that it hopes it can cut costs to the point where AR devices could be sold for under $600 (£469) by the end of 2019. They currently sell for over $1,000 (£780).
It added that it has projects in development with large technology businesses, but declined to identify its clients.
Earlier this year, WaveOptics announced another manufacturing deal with EV, an Austrian firm. The new deal with Goertek is in addition to this previous partnership, WaveOptics said.
The global augmented reality market is expected to reach $70bn by 2023, according to forecasts from Mordor Intelligence. The firm expects to see a compound annual growth rate in augmented reality of 51pc over the next five years.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, has repeatedly said that his company is closely watching the AR sector. Recent iPhones have included some AR functionality, but companies purchased by Apple in recent years point to a plan to develop its own goggles which would include augmented reality.
Last year, Mr Cook said that he doesn’t believe that “anything will be untouched” by AR.


DigiLens’ holographic technology helps to augment the world.
Above: DigiLens’ holographic technology helps to augment the world.
Image Credit: DigiLens


DigiLens has raised a new round of funding from Pokemon Go maker Nianticand Mitsubishi Chemical’s Diamond Edge Ventures to develop holographic waveguide displays for augmented reality applications.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it is the third round of funding for DigiLens. The investment will let Sunnyvale, California-based DigiLens continue to make quality holographic waveguide displays for global automobile, enterprise, consumer, avionics and military brands.
Previously, DigiLens raised $25 million in May from Germany’s Continental, a tech company interested in automotive applications for holographic displays. At that point, the company had raised $60 million.
“We are thrilled to have Niantic and MCHC join Continental AG and our other strategic investors,” said Chris Pickett, DigiLens CEO, in a statement. “These investments will strengthen the ecosystem of support for DigiLens, its licensees and their customers for the manufacturing of large volumes of displays at consumer price points that cannot be matched by other technologies.”
DigiLens is creating proprietary nanomaterials and core technologies for transparent, augmented reality (AR) displays for several global industries. The new relationship with Mitsubishi Chemical will result in first-of-its-kind plastic material for waveguide displays that will be lighter, less expensive and nearly unbreakable, which is especially important for eye-glass thin smart glasses and displays for smart helmets.
Niantic makes consumer AR gaming experiences with titles such as Pokemon Go, Ingress, Ingress Prime, and the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Niantic CEO John Hanke has made no secret that he wants to help push augmented reality technologies forward.
“Niantic has spent years transforming the world into a game board,” said Hanke, in a statement. “DigiLens is on an amazing path, in collaboration with MCHC, to bring more affordable and accessible hardware experiences to players around the world, making it possible for characters and game play to be seamlessly woven into the real world, supported by compelling safe and lightweight plastic AR displays.”
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings makes advanced materials, and it created Silicon Valley-based Diamond Edge Ventures in July 2018 to engage with startup companies and the venture community worldwide.
“We could not have found a better first investment than DigiLens, as it demonstrates how MCHC’s advanced technology can help create a new market through strategic partnership with a world technology leader.” said Patrick Suel, president of Diamond Edge Ventures, in a statement. “Through this investment, we also become an active participant in an AR/VR technology ecosystem projected to have broad impact across [industries], and we will accelerate adoption of a new computing platform that will benefit users worldwide”
The company has developed a photopolymer material and holographic copy process to manufacture precision diffractive optics by printing rather than traditional expensive methods like precision etching. The resultant eyeglass display has higher efficiency and wider field of view at a low cost.
DigiLens has formed strategic partnerships with other HUD and AR market leaders including Panasonic, Sony, Rockwell Collins, Continental and Foxconn.

Waveguide Optics Differentiate Augmented Reality Head Mounted Displays


Lumus, a developer and producer of transparent augmented reality (AR) displays, announces today that Gartner notes in its September 2018 Market Trends: Advancements in Immersive See-Through Technologies Will Differentiate Augmented Reality Glasses report, lists waveguide optics create differentiation for augmented reality head mounted displays.
Gartner forecasts that "by 2022, the top-selling model of AR HMDs will weigh less than 50 grams with up to a 100-degree field of view horizontal, down by more than 50% from the average of more than 100 grams with a 45-degree field of view in 2018.... Waveguide optics for AR HMDs has recently brought more attention to and raised the profile of microdisplays. Well-designed waveguide optics is able to drastically reduce the weight of AR HMDs while simultaneously providing a wider field of view and enhanced picture quality."
As stated in the report: "A waveguide can be very thin (less than 5 mm), have a wide field of view (larger than 40 degrees), and have a large display area for overlaying information without extra weight increase. Furthermore, the well-designed waveguide optics enhances picture quality in color and resolution by effectively guiding/combining different wavelengths of light projected from microdisplays to the user's eye."
In order for OEMs, to compete in the market they will need to meet the challenges that exist in entering the market. Some of those challenges include: that immersive technology demands that developers use new technology differently than they have with 2D interfaces, pricing needs to be affordable for the consumer, extended battery life, and a lightweight and stylish look that appeals to users are essential for mass adoption.
"Because of the detail that comes with developing waveguide optics, the challenge that the industry today is facing is primarily mass manufacturing," says Ari Grobman, CEO of Lumus. "We anticipated this challenge and partnered with Quanta Computer to develop mass production of our waveguide optics to meet the growing need in the consumer market."
Gartner subscribers can access the report, here.


Comments

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