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DigiLens’ Plastic Waveguide Tech Could Make XR Glasses Lighter and Cheaper

Whether you’re talking about virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses, everyone wants them to be smaller, lighter and cheaper to facilitate mainstream appeal. In its latest step on this journey, DigiLens has announced an extended partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) to help build and distribute its plastic waveguide technology.

DigiLens and MCC have developed a proprietary plastic waveguide which they say “perform at nearly the same level as glass” whilst reducing the weight and manufacturing cost. The plastic solution will be made available to smartglasses OEMs via DigiLens’ licensed production partners, eventually making these kinds of devices far more cost-effective, and therefore attractive to consumers.

“DigiLens’ vision is to allow people to perceive the world in a way that brings them material and personal value through new experiences,” said Chris Pickett, CEO of DigiLens.  “Rather than trying to be the XR product you buy, we are instead looking to be in every XR product or experience you buy by licensing our technology and future improvements to qualified suppliers or to OEMs for direct incorporation into their own products. Plastic sells and, with a powerhouse like MCC on board, it allows us to deliver the very best, most affordable, safest and lightest waveguides on the market today.”

This announcement follows DigiLens’ recent Design v1 unveiling, a modular platform revealed in May. As part of its Visualize Framework, the DigiLens Design v1 features the Snapdragon XR2 Platform as well as DigiLens’ Crystal50 waveguides. Currently, DigiLens hasn’t said when its new plastic waveguide could be available for a device like the Design v1, or what those performance ratings may look like.

“Plastic is an essential element for everyday life, and so critical to the ultimate success of waveguides and therefore XR glasses,” said Johei Takimoto, Managing Executive Officer of MCC. “Coupled with DigiLens’ leading waveguide technology and laser focus on accelerating the development of the smartglasses computing category across the entire ecosystem, we are putting our full attention and support to deliver on this key initiative. With plastic waveguides, the head-worn ecosystem can start designing for compelling ruggedized use cases, wrapped in a small and standalone form factor – we believe AR/XR glasses will be the next volume mobile device and we are very excited to be at the forefront of this new frontier.”

DigiLens isn’t the only company looking to lighten the load on your face whilst improving XR performance using plastic. Kopin unveiled its own all-plastic Pancake optics last month, doing away with heavy glass altogether. As further advancements in this field are made, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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