Augmented reality headsets with larger eye boxes than any device currently available could make their way to market by the end of next year if current timelines hold true.
These devices are made possible by WaveOptics, whose full-color waveguide displays are capable of a 40-degree field of view and provide eyeboxes that surpass current offerings "by quite some margin," according to Dion Price, vice president of business development for Wave Optics.
"That makes it incredibly usable and comfortable to wear," said Price in an interview with Next Reality. "It allows that headset just to fit that person, and they'll see the image fully and immediately without any adjustment."*
The company is currently producing pre-production samples for their customers, with which they can build proof-of-concept prototypes. The pre-production displays will ship towards the end of this year and continue into early 2018, after which WaveOptics will begin producing the displays in mass quantities.
"You'll start to see a couple of systems popping up on the market probably (at) the late end of next year, or something like that, depending on their launch schedules," said Price.
While he is not at liberty to disclose specific companies, Price hints that they are working with several prominent electronics manufacturers as well as vendors building devices for enterprise customers.
There are lots of companies that have been watching the HoloLens, and they have been paying attention to various announcements from a lot of the big tech companies; there's a lot of aligning, let's say, of schedules and timelines and things like that as a result of that. There's probably going to be a fair amount of interesting things happening in a broadly similar window.
Once their customers are ready to proceed with production, WaveOptics is prepared to meet the demand. According to Price, WaveOptics uses standard materials to make their displays and have implemented proven processes and best practices from various industries. The end result is product fabricated at a realistic price point.
"Some other AR manufacturers, in terms of display, are literally having to invent the machines to produce their displays," said Price. "We're not inventing machines to manufacture the product. The manufacturing processes using machines (that) already exist in various other industries, so we're able to buy existing equipment off the shelf."
Founded in 2010, the sum of the company's progress to date, from business practices to sales pipeline, has inspired confidence from investors, as demonstrated by a Series B round of funding that netted 12 million pounds (the equivalent of nearly $16 million).
"Nothing cuts through the vaporware and the presentations like showing a pipeline of partners that you're working with and general interest that you actually have," said Price. "There's so much hype out there, so many companies that are jumping on multiple bandwagons."