Vuzix and Nokia create 'waveguide' smart glasses

The new optics technology for wearable displays allows for smart glasses to be integrated into standard glasses frames.

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
2 min read

Earlier this year, we took a look at how Google Glass actually displays an image and what technologies might be powering it in the future.

The differences between waveguide and "traditional" smart glasses optics, according to Vuzix, along with the M2000AR. (Credit: Vuzix)

One of the ones mentioned — and mentioned specifically by Google in its patent application for Glass — was waveguide, where the image is "pushed" into an existing glasses lens.

VR headset manufacturer Vuzix has been working with Nokia on a waveguide optics engine and is about to release its first commercial product with the new technology: the M2000AR HMD.

While the device is a little less than "sexy", it's a monocular developed for enterprise applications, the waveguide technology certainly opens up new avenues for smart-glass manufacturers.

According to Vuzix:

Waveguide optics use a 1.4mm thin 'window' (operating similar to a fibre optic) with a tiny input pupil that is expanded using a hologram in front of the eye. Light is not bent through bulk material as in conventional optics, which provides a significant improvement in mass, weight, volume, simplicity and overall optical performance.

Essentially, waveguide will eventually allow manufacturers to do away with the prism that Google Glass uses, instead integrating the display "projector" into normal-size glasses frames.

As we noted, the clunky-looking M2000AR might not end up being essential wear for the Silicon Valley hipster, but it does feature a 720p display and 1080p camera along with integrated head tracking. The image is clearly visible in full daylight, and there's a 30-degree field of vision.

With Vuzix having recently shown off an Android-powered Glass competitor, the M100, we're keen to see a more consumer iteration of the waveguide technology in some upcoming products.

How images appear when using waveguide displays. (Credit: Vuzix)