Who is WaveOptics?

WaveOptics is the world leading designer and manufacturer of diffractive waveguides, the key optical component in wearable augmented reality (AR) devices.

AR wearables, such as smart glasses, enable users to see digital images overlaid on top of the real world. There are two key elements that allow these images to be seen – a light source such as a minute projector and a means of transferring the image from the projector into the user’s eyes.

WaveOptics’ waveguide technology transfers the light waves from the light source and projects them into the user’s eye. The technology produces a large eye-box, binocular viewing and a high field of view. The eye-box (the viewing window) is the size of the AR display from which the full image is visible. WaveOptics’ waveguides deliver crisp, undistorted text as well as stable imagery.

WaveOptics technology is designed to be used for immersive AR experiences in Industrial, enterprise and consumer markets. The Company aims for its waveguides to be the core optical component used in all AR wearable devices, driven by its unique technology and expertise, which enable unparalleled manufacturing scalability and visual performance as well as versatility for numerous applications.

Why was WaveOptics created?

WaveOptics was created to enable mass adoption of truly scalable and immersive AR in all leading market segments – industrial, enterprise, and consumer. Commercialisation of that market has been very slow to date, with very few products actually being shipped.

WaveOptics’ patented technology is the core ingredient required to unlock mass market adoption of AR, as its diffractive waveguides can ensure high-performance display, wearability and scalability for real world applications at a low cost.

Who founded the company?

WaveOptics was founded by Sumanta Talukdar and David Grey, and commenced operations in October 2014.

David Hayes recently joined as CEO of WaveOptics. David has brought hardware and technology innovation to fruition for over twenty years, leading teams across research, product development and manufacturing, most recently as Executive Vice President of DAQRI Labs, and before as CEO of 1066 Labs, a product design consultancy specialising in head mounted and head-up displays.

Where is the company located?

WaveOptics is headquartered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. US office details to come.

What is the company’s goal?

The company intends to see its diffractive waveguides become the essential ingredient in every pair of augmented reality glasses/headset produced, with unparalleled performance, at a price that makes the consumer experience possible.

Its aim is to help any partner materialise an AR display, by offering the key technology required at a price point that will allow AR end-user products to hit the market by 2019 for under $600. WaveOptics’ immediate vision revolves around achieving higher fields of view, manufacturing efficiency and more versatile materials for its waveguides.

Who are WaveOptics’ customers?

With WaveOptics’ waveguides, platform, hardware and software vendors have the power to realise their augmented reality ambitions, making them a mainstream reality.

WaveOptics isn’t sharing specific customer details right now, however, we do have a number of Tier 1 customers today and the list is growing daily. The waveguide technology is currently used in a variety of industries, including warehouse logistics engineering and transportation applications, by OEM and ODM customers in the US, Europe and Asia.

How big is the company?

WaveOptics has 48 staff members currently and aims to increase this number to 60 staff members end of 2018.

How is the company funded?

The company successfully closed a £12m Series B funding round in 2017, the year’s biggest UK funding round in AR hardware. This included investments from Octopus Ventures, IP Group plc, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH and China’s Gobi Ventures.

How does the technology work?

WaveOptics’ Phlox is a transparent optical waveguide for full colour, near-eye augmented reality displays. Formed from glass with precision nano-structures, it is the combiner for augmented reality images.

With a large eye-box and a wide field of view, WaveOptics’ diffractive waveguides seamlessly combine real and virtual worlds. Crisp text and imagery is projected by our near-eye displays, presenting computer images which overlay the real world.

The light is transmitted along the Phlox waveguide (via total internal reflection) towards the output region where it is guided towards the eye.

This process, known as 2D pupil expansion, allows a small light engine to support a large eye-box. This enables an AR device that uses our waveguides to be small, light and can accommodate different head sizes and eye separations.

What is the background of the WaveOptics team?

WaveOptics’ management team of AR experts, spans over seven decades of accumulated experience covers a range of sectors – consumer electronics, gaming, defence, medical and mobile. Application expertise includes heads-up displays (HUDs) and head mounted displays (HMDs). Technology expertise is very well represented with deep know-how in refractive and diffractive optical systems, optical design, imaging, illumination and integration into other parts of AR systems. This deep knowledge and practical experience allow WaveOptics to create waveguides with best in class fields of view, cost effective mass production and maximum design versatility.

What are the company’s plans for 2018?

WaveOptics aims to continue working towards new partnerships, and has just announced its new module program, that will give early access to waveguide development for faster prototyping. As part of its development cycle, WaveOptics also designs light engines, purely to assist its partners in keeping pace with its waveguide iterations and to accurately present the full potential of its technology.

The company is developing higher fields of view, without compromising performance or manufacturing viability. It is also creating new curved form factors and waveguides – lighter, safer and cheaper.