Growing global market demand for optical AR glasses

30th January 2024
Paige West

Lumus, an innovator in reflective waveguide technology for augmented reality (AR) eyewear, announced the expansion of its five-year partnership with SCHOTT, an international technology group and manufacturer of high-tech materials and optics, including SCHOTT RealView high-index wafers and reflective waveguides. This expansion aims to cater to the increasing global demand for optical AR glasses.

In line with this extended collaboration, SCHOTT is substantially upgrading its manufacturing capabilities in Penang, Malaysia, with the addition of a new production facility. The Penang plant, operational for over 50 years and employing more than 1,000 #glasslovers, functions as a key manufacturing hub for optical components in consumer electronics, industrial, and medical applications.

This announcement coincides with the opening day of SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, California, where it was made at SCHOTT Booth #6311.

Lumus CEO Ari Grobman shared: “In early 2019, Lumus and SCHOTT began a strategic partnership with the goal of enabling cost-effective, mass-scale manufacturing of the reflective waveguides featured in our Lumus 2D Maximus architecture. Now, SCHOTT is processing waveguides for our next-generation Z-Lens waveguide architecture that enables us to develop even smaller, lighter AR eyeglasses with high-resolution image quality, outdoor-compatible brightness, and seamless Rx integration. The success of our partnership is helping to make high quality optical AR glasses a practical reality for the mass market.”

The partnership’s first phase involved establishing a sampling line in Malaysia for prototype development and understanding manufacturing requirements. The second phase saw SCHOTT focus on equipment and processing platforms to meet industrial manufacturing demands, particularly for Lumus’s Z-lens reflective waveguide architecture, designed for the burgeoning demand for AR glasses.

With these investments, and the planned expansion of the Malaysia Advanced Optics Hub, the partnership now supports all product development phases in consumer electronics, from proof-of-concept prototypes to mass-market manufacturing.

The Lumus Z-Lens 2D waveguide architecture, recognised on Fast Company’s 2023 Next Big Things in Tech list, features a 50% smaller and lighter optical engine than its predecessor while maintaining high image quality and luminance efficiency. This architecture provides several degrees of freedom for glasses manufacturers, including flexibility in the eye-box position and direct bonding of Rx prescription lenses, allowing consumers to customise their AR eyeglasses.

Sprengard concluded: “The strategic partnership between Lumus and SCHOTT signals the combined strengths of two highly committed industry leaders with complementary strengths. Lumus has created a product architecture that establishes the industry benchmark in reflective waveguide performance, and we have continuously improved the manufacturing process so that it’s capable of scaling to meet the global demand that will make AR the computing platform of the future.”

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