With big-name tech companies like Apple and Facebook gearing up to push out their own smartglasses in the coming years, engineering conglomerate Bosch has been working on the optical components that could help the competition catch up.
This week, the Bosch Sensortech division unveiled its Light Drive system, a solution that includes all the optical components, sensors, and processors that manufacturers would need to add a heads-up display to smartglasses.
"The Smartglasses Light Drive system is the smallest and lightest product on the market today and is, therefore, able to turn almost any regular spectacles into smartglasses," said Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO of Bosch Sensortec, in a statement. "By eliminating distracting phone usage, smartglasses can help improve driving safety and reduce the impulse of users to constantly check their mobile devices for notifications or messages."
The Light Drive employs the microelectromechanical system (MEMS) method to project images onto the holographic element on the lens, which beams the images to the retina. The system is also capable of being integrated into the waveguide systems used in AR headsets.
Bosch's sensor array includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer for tracking the user's orientation, along with a barometric pressure sensor. The sensors also facilitate touchpad inputs.
Perhaps most important, Bosch manages to shink the package to dimensions that weigh less than half an ounce, which enables to smartglasses makers to minimize the bulk of their smartglasses frames.
With the sum of its parts, the Bosch Light Drive can facilitate the type of AR experiences, such as navigation, shopping lists, and step-by-step process guidance, that North's Focals and the Vuzix Blade supply for early-adopter consumers in a slim design.
Alas, the system won't be ready for "high-volume" manufacturers until 2021. Meanwhile, North and Vuzix are already preparing their next-generation smartglasses.
Nonetheless, Bosch will have the technology on display at CES 2020, so AR enthusiasts and industry observers will have the opportunity to take a peek at what the smartglasses of the near future will have to offer.
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