Smart glasses of the future
EssilorLuxottica and Politecnico di Milano have created the first ever joint research centre aimed at designing the smart glasses of the future, EssilorLuxottica Smart Eyewear Lab.
The agreement was announced by Vittorio Colao, Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition; Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan; Fabrizio Sala, Lombardy’s regional Minister for Research, Innovation, University, Export and Simplification, and Internationalisation; Ferruccio Resta, Rector of Politecnico di Milano, and Francesco Milleri, Chairman and CEO of EssilorLuxottica. It involves an investment worth over €50m.
The project will encompass industrial research and experimental development of devices underlying a new generation of wearables which are capable of autonomous network connection. It is a pioneering and tangible project that will enable the development of technologies and services by means of a widely used interface such as eyewear.
The EssilorLuxottica Smart Eyewear Lab will initially last five years and will employ, when fully operational, over 100 researchers and scientists working closely together in a dedicated space within the Innovation District, which the Politecnico di Milano is currently developing in the Parco dei Gasometri, located in the Bovisa area in Milan. The University thus aims to bridge the gap between universities and businesses, developing a highly international research environment that fosters synergies and transversality.
The project’s main challenge will be the development of core hardware, software and application technologies to enable humans to interact with the digital world. To do so, the EssilorLuxottica Smart Eyewear Lab’s industrial research and experimental development will be divided into five macro-objectives: analysis and development of electronic and photonic components, as well as algorithms to acquire, process and offer real-world information via augmented reality to the user. Their development will integrate the technology within various prototype glasses, as foreseen in the last two objectives, by developing materials, charging systems and algorithms to certify their performance in real environments.
The EssilorLuxottica Smart Eyewear Lab in Milan will work as part of the Group’s R&D platform, already operating globally, with more than 30 R&D centres dedicated to vision care, eyewear design, sustainability and digital transformation, around 1,000 researchers and more than 11,000 patents.
EssilorLuxottica and the Politecnico di Milano also aim to jointly create an ad hoc curriculum fostering the development of increasingly specific skills in the wearable and smart eyewear field and virtuously feeding the Lab’s research activities. The goal is to attract young talents, PhDs, researchers and teaching staff to put their effort into this innovative project, to train new resources who can meet the demands of the current and future labour market.
“The agreement with EssilorLuxottica represents a milestone in the development of the ‘Goccia di Bovisa’ area, for several reasons,” explains the Rector of Politecnico di Milano, Ferruccio Resta. “Certainly, the first one is that the University now works alongside an internationally recognised example of excellence, an Italian group that is synonymous with innovation – a great catalyst for other entrepreneurial and research endeavours within the innovation district taking shape in the Gasometri area. The second reason relates to the realm in which we will operate: the metaverse, of which we can only guess the possibilities today, is a complex area of study and experimentation, involving technological fields developed within the University: from electronics, to photonics, to data science. It opens up unprecedented perspectives that are not limited to technological innovation or the development of new products, but reshape entire processes, services and relationships. It is precisely on this basis that the Joint Research Centre will operate over the next five years."
“Innovation is at the heart of EssilorLuxottica’s business model,” Francesco Milleri, Chairman and CEO of EssilorLuxottica, added. “The lines between physical and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly blurred, outlining completely unprecedented horizons and offering a unique challenge that will propel us into the future. These new models are keys for unlocking an enormous potential of development for the job market and the entire economic system.”