WaveOptics and EV Group have announced the launch of a new collaborative effort to bring augmented reality AR into the mainstream. That's according to an April 26 joint press release which says that the two companies are not working on an AR headset itself but primary components for those. Namely, the partnership between the diffractive waveguides manufacturer and wafer bonding and nano-imprint lithography equipment supplier will center around new high-performance AR waveguides. Those are a key component to how AR technologies work and the partnership hopes to result in final AR products that are below the $600 price range by the end of 2019.
That's going to hinge on the companies' ability to generate waveguides that are much more affordable, in terms of cost, due to mass production and scalability. The plan is to utilize EV Group's Nanoimprint Lithography technology generated by its NILPhotonics Competence Center's pilot line manufacturing infrastructure to exceed production expectation. WaveOptics will use that in its own AR displays in order to offer high performance, commercial waveguides at a price that enables new industrial, enterprise and consumer development. That solution, in turn, will be available to AR platform developers and manufacturers via the company's Module Program.
Cost is arguably one of the leading prohibitions which are holding both VR an AR back from becoming truly mainstream. That's despite frequent announcement and expectations for new announcements in both. Beyond even that, the current performance of the technologies has lagged behind consumer expectations while prices have remained high. If this new partnership can attain its overall goal of providing scalability in key AR components at the lowest cost yet seen, that should translate to lower costs in end products. Moreover, with a central tenant of the partnership focusing on the performance of the technology, that should be feasible while also improving usability and meeting expectations of consumers across the board. Of course, it bears repeating at this point that there are no guarantees WaveOptics and EV Group can pull this off. However, this could also be exactly the push the wearables industry needs to make AR a much larger part of everyday life in both work and home circumstances.