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XR optics technology developer looks to accelerate rollout

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By Rich Pell


The funding round included more than $50 million in new investments, says the company, valuing it at over $530 million and solidifying its waveguides as a de facto standard for smartglasses and allowing the company to strengthen its licensing business model and extend its global offerings. Corning joins a list of investors in this round that includes Samsung Electronics, Optimas Capital Management, Diamond Edge Ventures (the strategic investment arm of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation), Alsop Louie Partners, 37 Interactive Entertainment, UDC Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Universal Display Corporation), and Dolby Family Ventures.

“As the contours of the next computing category begin to gain better definition among industry participants, you’ll see a core technology industry standard take hold as investors place bets through their corporate and business investment activities,” says Chris Pickett, DigiLens CEO. “This series D round demonstrates our strong strategic foundation in the emerging XR sector. Our diverse set of partners from multiple different industries and backgrounds is taking another step to separate DigiLens from everyone else.”

“We’re working on projects today that use our industry leading volume Bragg grating technology that over the next year will be in the market in a material way,” says Pickett. “These advances will showcase that we’re the only solution that is going to work when efficiency, uniformity and cost are considered. Then, with our next generation technology, we’ll have a step function in performance that will extend our lead even more.”

The company says its next-generation waveguide technology is proving to have a significant gain in performance at an even lower cost point, and represents a breakthrough in diffractive grating technology, effectively broadening the design space that dictates how the technology can be used for near-to-eye displays. The novel surface relief structures themselves have no residual bias layer between the gratings and the supporting substrate and are made up of a strong polymer – instead of a messy resin.

The grating structures are simple to make with the company’s current holographic recording process, which allows them to be slanted easily to suit a wide range of requirements and to be made cost effectively and efficiently, while still supporting high contrast, sharp images. Compared to traditional surface relief gratings, says the company, this next generation waveguide technology is not limited to a small range of grating height to width aspect ratios; this lends flexibility to confront both fabrication and design challenges. As a result, this next generation technology is offered as providing the solution for efficiently and uniformly providing much larger fields of view through a waveguide or a reduced number of substrates to create a full color waveguide lens.

Extended reality (XR) devices are poised to be the next mobile technology platform and a once-in-a-generation strategic inflection point in computing, says the company. XR is seen as having profound applications and potential uses in a broad array of sectors ranging from industry to medicine, education, and entertainment, and as being the next evolutionary step in computing from laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The company says its volume Bragg gratings are positioned to become the de facto optical standard for smart glass experiences because its technology is 4x better than the closest competitor for eye glow and provides the best balance of thin, lightweight, high performance, low cost, and highly manufacturable waveguide displays for all types of XR devices.

Alastair Grant, DigiLens’ SVP of Optical Engineering says, “With our volume Bragg gratings, DigiLens has a scalable and cost-effective optics offering ready today, and with the promise we have seen with our next generation waveguide technologies we’re set to provide the needed wide field of view and thin optical solutions of tomorrow. With partners like Corning for glass substrates and Mitsubishi Chemical for plastic substrates, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the personal computing industry now have the ability to create smartglasses tailored for enterprise, government, and consumer use cases.”

The series D close follows the company’s announcement at CES 2022 of the next iteration of its near-to-eye optical technology, the full-color Crystal30 2nd generation waveguide. The new Crystal30 waveguide is offered as the most efficient diffractive waveguide on the market today, enabling DigiLens partners to create XR experiences that are compatible in both indoor and outdoor bright environments.

DigiLens


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