1. Chemy JMHT's Avatar


    Display technology maker DigiLens has raised $22 million to create better augmented reality and virtual reality products in which digital information lies on top of transparent glass.

    The Sunnyvale, California-based company makes diffractive optical waveguide technology and nanomaterials for AR and VR, which could be a $108 billion market by 2021, according to tech advisor Digi-Capital.

    DigiLens’ technology can enable “eyeglass-thin” AR heads-up displays for motorcycle helmets, car windshields, VR headsets, aerospace applications such as fighter jets, and AR smartglasses, said Jonathan Waldern, CEO of DigiLens, in an interview with VentureBeat.


    Above: DigiLens makes heads-up display technology for cars, such as a new BMW model.
    Image Credit: DigiLens


    “We enable a massive reduction in size and form factor,” Waldern said. “This funding allows us to expand our scope to focus on the next areas. Today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact.”

    Strategic investors include Sony, Foxconn, Continental, and Panasonic, along with venture investors Alsop Louie Partners, Bold Capital, Nautilus Venture Partners, and Dolby Family Ventures. The company plans to use these strategic relationships to bring to market several augmented reality displays and sensors for enterprise, consumer, and transportation applications.

    “Data on glass is a term I coined to encompass the utility of mixed reality,” said Gilman Louie, founder and managing director of Alsop Louie Partners and lead investor, in a statement. “We are betting on a variety of AR applications, from stock picking and telepresence to autonomous driving and gaming, all benefiting from DigiLens optics and AR-HUD breakthrough.”


    Above: A heads-up display in a car can make you a more alert driver.
    Image Credit: DigiLens


    The company is eight years old, and it spent about six of those years developing its fundamental technology, Waldern said. It targeted the aerospace and military markets first, and it has generated revenues from its heads-up displays (HUDs) for that market. The big aerospace firm Rockwell Collins is using the DigiLens technology in various projects.

    “We bootstrapped ourselves on the military and aerospace business,” Waldern said.

    DigiLens is also going into production on automotive HUDs that it showed with BMW last year.

    “We believe Augmented reality HUDs will not only enhance driver safety but also accelerate automated driving acceptance by enhancing the drivers’ confidence in what the car actually sees and knows” said Helmut Matschi, executive board member and head of the interior division at Continental. “The large AR-HUD display will help keep drivers safe by putting critical travel information at eye level and allow them to see what the robot car sees.”


    Above: DigiLens can enhance a driving experience with a heads-up display.
    Image Credit: DigiLens


    Waldern said the “key enabler for AR is the optics.” Sony plans to use the DigiLens waveguide optics in an upcoming version of its AR smartglasses. That will help Sony develop lenses with full-color capability and a wider field of view, compared to other smartglasses available today, said Hiroshi Mukawa, general manager of the AR eyeglass program at Sony, in a statement.

    AR is hard to do because the devices push the laws of physics, said G. Chen, chief technology officer at Foxconn, a major contract manufacturer.

    “We think diffractive optics holds the key to AR, but writing millions of tiny optic structures is best done photographically, using nano self-assembly, not expensive precision etching like HoloLens,” Chen said. “We need to break the manufacturing price barrier. With their Waveguide Diffractive Optics, [DigiLens seems] to have overcome most nagging technical problems, and we see a very bright future for them.”

    Panasonic is interested in applying DigiLens’ technology in future car designs.

    “We have supported DigiLens for several years and continue to believe their technology will address the complex challenge of delivering advanced diffractive optics for automotive and consumer HUDs,” said Hakan Kostepen, executive director at the Panasonic Silicon Valley car research center.

    Waldern contends that the display performance of etched structures, called surface relief gratings (SRG’s), as used by Microsoft HoloLens, Vuzix (licensed from Nokia Technologies), and Magic Leap (acquired from Molecular Imprints), are all limited to narrow field of view (FOV), due to the inherent physics of SRG grating interaction.


    Above: DigiLens enables augmented reality overlays.
    Image Credit: DigiLens


    These other technologies work for small screen display but have no place in immersive AR or VR “mixed realities,” Waldern said. By contrast, DigiLens makes precision diffractive optics by photographically recording (not etching) the nanostructures.

    The company’s Switchable Bragg Gratings (SBG’s) allow much wider FOV with higher efficiency, in addition to offering a “printable” manufacturing benefit.

    To date, DigiLens has raised $35 million. It employs 42 people.

    Source: DigiLens raises $22 million to make 'eyeglass-thin' augmented reality displays | VentureBeat | AR/VR | by Dean Takahashi
    01-23-2017 04:44 PM
  2. iThunderbirt's Avatar
    Cool! Hope one day to see such technology available in cards. I would see this be useful in in "driver less cars". This way, while the car drives you to your destination, you can see the information displayed and it will not distract you since you are not driving
    01-23-2017 10:32 PM
  3. Chemy JMHT's Avatar
    Yes what was interesting to me was they actually know a lot of things about how it will affect us as consumers.

    Most of the times companies releases something and the way the people use it is not always as expected but it this case I think it will be very accurate
    01-26-2017 01:28 PM
  4. Firegold21's Avatar
    As long as it's affordable, I'm in. I've been wanting a HUD for my car for a long while. ;-)

    I think it'd also be cool if someone could come up with an augmented reality solution that attached to whatever glasses you had. I have to wear safety glasses at work; if I could attach a display, that'd be pretty sweet.
    02-02-2017 05:16 PM
  5. Chemy JMHT's Avatar
    As long as it's affordable, I'm in. I've been wanting a HUD for my car for a long while. ;-)

    I think it'd also be cool if someone could come up with an augmented reality solution that attached to whatever glasses you had. I have to wear safety glasses at work; if I could attach a display, that'd be pretty sweet.
    Maybe the ROAV by Anker will do the job for $299 but I don't know what's affordable in this case, for me it isn't at that price point.

    02-02-2017 08:29 PM
  6. Firegold21's Avatar
    Maybe the ROAV by Anker will do the job for $299 but I don't know what's affordable in this case, for me it isn't at that price point.

    Yeah. That's not affordable for me, either, lol. I've been looking at the Navdy, but it's too pricey. I'm keeping an eye out for if prices go down some or I can get a higher-paying job.
    Chemy JMHT likes this.
    02-03-2017 08:16 PM
  7. Extraneus's Avatar
    Hm, the higher level 2017 Mazdas already come with HUD on a small glass pane...
    Chemy JMHT likes this.
    04-08-2017 12:26 AM
  8. luisftw's Avatar
    it would like it to be better than google glasses
    08-19-2017 09:09 PM
  9. parlevoo's Avatar
    I gotta see if these guys are trading publicly (pardon my ignorance)! The future is near!
    08-21-2017 10:56 PM

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