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XR optics firms to advance waveguides with nuclear and military groups

26 Jun 2024

US Army and Oak Ridge teams partner with Kopin and DigiLens in support of government missions.

Extended reality (XR) optics and glasses developer DigiLens has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) consortium to advance waveguides and head-up display (HUD) technologies used in sensitive applications.

Based out of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, CNS is aiming to integrate wearable computers with smart glasses to deliver enhanced immersion.

The organization says it is a leader when it comes to developing augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) technologies for emergency response training and preparedness, nuclear material processing, special tooling and machining, workforce development and training, and rapid, agile prototyping.

ITAR approved
The Oak Ridge Enhanced Technology and Training Center (ORETTC) will lead the site’s efforts, with its director Ashley Stowe commenting:

“We believe the lightweight size and functionality compared to the bulkier headsets will help adoption of AR within manufacturing where extended use is required.”

Stowe adds that, because DigiLens manufactures the waveguides through its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) approved licensees, they can partner to create custom AR devices inserted into tactical personal protective equipment.

“Because of their US-based, high-yield waveguide manufacturing process, they are a viable long-term partner for work in secure environments,” he pointed out.

DigiLens’ VP of sales and marketing Brian Hamilton added: “The Y-12 partnership will focus on advancing sensor integrations and developing a total solutions package, tailored to support advanced maintenance repair and operations, and situational awareness for first responders, maintainers, and operators.

“We are thrilled to begin this work to concentrate on expanding the depth of Y-12’s applications with heads-up displays and removing technological barriers from technological limitations.”

Holographic waveguides
DigiLens has expertise in holographic waveguides, thanks to its patented optical platform and photopolymer technology.

The Sunnyvale, California, firm announced last month that its manufacturing partner Crystal-Optech, which is headquartered in China, had upgraded its waveguide manufacturing line to support growing demand from the consumer and enterprise sectors, and increase production of DigiLens’ “​​​​ARGO” smart glasses.

Described as the first purpose-built standalone AR/XR smart glasses device, ARGO is said to meet many of the requirements of the US government for “true AR” solutions, such as modularity for future products, high display transparency for improved situational awareness, and low eye glow.

Built to military specification, the design is based around DigiLens’ “Crystal30” waveguides, a transparent display that overlays digital information onto the real world.

“DigiLens’ patented waveguide technology is the only one able to hit a consumer price point and enable an advanced, adaptable, scalable manufacturing process with a high yield, low development costs, and small footprint,” states the firm.

Kopin wins US Army SBIR
Meanwhile Kopin, another US-based developer of XR optics and glasses, has won support from the US Army to develop AR display optics for dismounted soldier vision systems.

Under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, Kopin will be aiming to provide improve optical performance for better daylight readability, visual and ergonomic comfort, and night-time visibility - alongside reduced size, weight, and power consumption.

Bill Maffucci, Kopin’s senior VP of business development and strategy, said: “We believe Kopin’s unique ability to not only develop the necessary optics but also to create a specific microdisplay that is optimized for the application will allow us to succeed where others have been unable to address the Army’s needs fully.”

It is hoped that will lead to widespread implementation of new user-centric products in the form of fully digitized head-mounted visual information systems operating both day and night.

ECOPTIKUniverse Kogaku America Inc.LASEROPTIK GmbHSPECTROGON ABTRIOPTICS GmbHBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationCeNing Optics Co Ltd
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