Despite the advancements in smart eyewear over the past decade or so, a couple of challenges have hindered adoption greatly. For one, the question of making smartglasses for people requiring prescription lenses (a significant portion of adult populations) has not found a truly innovative answer. For another, smartglasses have not quite found their stylistic stride, prioritizing tech over look. Netherlands-based Luxexcel, which pioneered 3D printing for lenses, is hoping to change this with its new tailored prescription smart lens solution, VisionPlatform 7.
VisionPlatform 7 was designed to be used by smartglasses manufacturers, enabling them to produce prescription lenses with embedded smart features in-house. These 3D printed smart lenses are characterized by being lightweight and thin, making them suitable for commercial frames—not unlike traditional eyewear.
Prior to Luxexcel’s technology—which we learned about earlier this year—solutions for prescription smart eyewear were bulky and unsophisticated, involving the use of glue or other fixing techniques to combine the lens and the smart hardware. The VisionPlatform 7 effectively does away with this assembly step, integrating the smart features directly into the lens. In more specific terms, the process integrates the hardware needed for AR functionality— like waveguides, holographic optical elements and liquid crystal foils—during the 3D printing process.
“The launch of VisionPlatform 7 begins a new era in the manufacturing of prescription smart lenses,” said Fabio Esposito, CEO of Luxexcel. “More than 75% of the adult world population today requires prescription lenses. Luxexcel provides a disruptive solution where smart technology is seamlessly combined with a prescription lens, rather than adding prescription power to the smart device as an afterthought. Luxexcel is accelerating the market introduction of true consumer smart glasses by allowing technology companies to manufacture prescription smart eyewear in the comfort of their own manufacturing home.”
VisionPlatform 7 is technology agnostic, meaning smart eyewear manufacturers can integrate various types of AR-enabling technologies into the 3D printed lenses. The lens prescriptions can also be tailored to the customer’s needs. The 3D printing process itself is an inkjet-based technology that produces prescription lenses without the need for supports or post-processing. In the new platform, the 3D printing process has been optimized for smart lenses, with built-in air gaps for waveguides and other components. The new system also includes different adhesion promotors to ensure that the optical elements are well bonded to the prescription lenses.
“To manufacture a device that combines prescription and smart functions requires a combination of skills in technology and optics,” commented Guido Groet, Chief Strategy Officer at Luxexcel. “We provide our customers with a complete solution to manufacture prescription smart lenses so that they can focus on developing the technologies and content for the device. With VisionPlatform 7, more innovative features can be added to smartglasses and the only limitation is the imagination of the designer.”
The lenses produced using the VisionPlatform 7 are compliant with ISO, ANSI and FDA requirements for prescription eyewear. Luxexcel also offers a range of lens materials, which are compatible with different finishes, such as anti-reflective and hydrophobic coatings.