Optoelectronics

LED-based lightguides target wearable applications

24th May 2016
Nat Bowers

Wearables are extremely driven toward smaller and lighter-weight products that are less imposing and distracting to the user. As much of the weight within these products is based on batteries and electronics, any savings in power or total package size from the illumination component results in lighter weight and smaller size devices. This is where Global Lighting Technologies' (GLT) thinner and more efficient lightguide technology is helping the industry.

Wearable technology includes devices such as glasses, headwear, shoes, wrist-worn devices and any other electronic enabled device that can be worn. The wearables market is expected to grow to over $70bn by 2025, with large segments in healthcare, fitness, fashion, industrial, commercial and military applications. As this market continues to develop and expand at a rapid pace, illumination needs within the industry are also increasing. This illumination includes both functional, such as backlighting and frontlighting of displays and indicators, and decorative, such as lines of light or illumination of logos.

With wrist-worn devices, Global Lighting Technologies (GLT) has lightguides in production as thin as 0.25mm and using as few as one LED to illuminate LCDs in conventional, GPS and fitness watches. This not only allows for a thinner profile on the user’s wrist, but also enables a decrease in power consumption, resulting in increased battery life and enhanced performance. With proper design and LED coupling, the efficiency and uniformity of these backlights can outperform much thicker lightguides.

In the clothing side of the wearables market, GLT offers products in the 0.25 to 0.40mm thickness range made of polycarbonate material that can be flexible. These lightguides can be combined with single colour LEDs as well as RGB LEDs to produce backlights for logos and decorative elements. Since very thin polycarbonate material can be flexed, it is suited for applications where it must be manipulated to create items such as purses, hats and clothing.

Within the head-worn market are AR and VR devices. GLT has created customised lightguides with focused and directed light emissions patterns necessary for the proper illumination of displays. This assists with the performance by directing the projection of images from the LCD to the eye creating the final user experience.

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