Lumus launches next-gen 2D ‘Z-Lens’ waveguide architecture

6th January 2023
Kiera Sowery

Lumus has announced the introduction of its 2nd generation Z-Lens 2D waveguide architecture that builds upon 2D Maximus to enable the development of smaller, lighter AR eyeglasses with high-resolution image quality, outdoor-compatible brightness and seamless Rx integration.

The technology will be demoed publicly for the first time at CES 2023.

“In order for AR glasses to penetrate the consumer market in a meaningful way, they need to be impressive both functionally and aesthetically. With Z-Lens, we’re aligning form and function, eliminating barriers-of-entry for the industry and paving the way for widespread consumer adoption,” said Lumus CEO Ari Grobman. 

“Our introduction of Maximus 2D reflective waveguide technology two years ago was just the beginning. Z-Lens, with all of its improvements unlocks the future of augmented reality that consumers are eagerly waiting for.”

Big functionality, small form factor

Lumus’ new Z-Lens waveguide architecture maintains the superb image quality and high luminance efficiency advantages of its predecessor, Maximus, but features an optical engine that is 50% smaller. The new architecture also allows for more flexibility for glasses manufacturers to place the entrance aperture in various positions. This allows for significantly more compact AR optics for natural looking glasses that reduce the weight and bulk associated with many of today’s solutions.

Z-Lens’ new, lightweight optical engine features 2K x 2K resolution and full, vibrant colour to offer superb image quality. With a brightness of 3,000 nits/Watt, consumers will be able to enjoy augmented reality in daylight through a pair of glasses that – from the outside – are virtually indistinguishable from a non-AR pair.

Lumus’ Z-Lens architecture also allows for direct bonding of optical elements for Rx prescription glasses, which can be licensed and utilized by manufacturing partners. This feature allows consumers to customize their AR eyeglasses to their vision without bulky, heavy inserts, enabling them to be utilized as normal eyewear.

“AR experts call the face a ‘sacred space’ – and it’s quite true. Natural-looking glasses with augmented reality functionality will unlock the consumer market and propel the industry forward,” Grobman emphasised. “Manufacturers will need to create aesthetically-appealing glasses before mass adoption can ever become a reality, and Z-Lens allows them to do exactly this.”

The bonding feature within Z-Lens also allows for dynamic focal lens integration that helps solve vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC), a visual phenomenon that occurs when the brain receives mismatching cues between vergence and accommodation of the eye.

Critical to a positive user-experience, Z-Lens also eliminates ambient light artifacts on the lenses – a common effect in AR glasses where small glares of light hit the optical display elements when the displays are turned off. And, like the original Maximus, Z-Lens architecture prioritises privacy by eliminating light leakage, meaning third parties are absolutely not able to see what the AR wearer is viewing.

In a pair of AR glasses, lenses that utilise Z-Lens reflective waveguides will function as the ‘screen’ on which content is displayed, originating from any of a variety of micro-display technologies including microLED, LCoS or laser based micro-projectors, integrated into the top perimeter corner of each lens cutout.

All Lumus reflective waveguides contain a series of ‘cascading’ partially reflective mirrors that guide the signal through the waveguide into the viewer’s eye. These transflective, partial mirrors expand the image along both the “X” and “Y” axes, expanding the image vertically and horizontally. This 2D expansion architecture enables a large field of view, while maintaining a tiny projector discreetly hidden in the temple of the eyeglass frame.

The first prototypes of Lumus Z-Lens will feature a 50-degree field of view, however the company has a product roadmap reaching greater than 80 degrees. Z-Lens can be integrated into finished products that appear virtually identical to standard eyeglasses.

The future is looking up

According to Grobman, Lumus’ Z-Lens architecture will play an outsized role in advancing the AR eyeglass market – a category that is at the threshold of rapid growth.

“AR glasses are poised to transform our society,” he said. “They feature better ergonomics than smartphones, novel interaction opportunities with various environments and businesses, and a much more seamless experience than handheld devices. The future, quite literally, is looking up.”

Lumus holds more than 430 patents, with more than 540 additional patents pending, placing it among the world’s top patent holders for augmented reality optics.

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier