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Essilor and CNRS partner to develop smarter eyewear

30 Dec 2015

French duo renew partnership to improve spectacles - and business potential.

Visionary: new 5-year eyewear research partnership.

Visionary: new 5-year eyewear research partnership.

French partners, optical products company Essilor and R&D lab CNRS, which have worked together on various projects since 2004, have signed a new research agreement for a five-year collaboration to come up with new optical systems. The agreement between Essilor and the LAAS-CNRS laboratory will be focused on new sorts of spectacles and associated components.

Within a dedicated Toulouse-based laboratory, called OPERA, a joint, multidisciplinary team of researchers and engineers will investigate designs of new lenses and glasses featuring “active and connected functions”. These emerging technologies are expected to help create the next generation of optical lenses offering improved performance in visual correction and wearer comfort as well as new applications of smarter eyewear.

LAAS-CNRS’ area of expertise includes embedded electronics, photonics, and robotics. The lab has also developed a high-level technological platform dedicated to the design and construction of prototypes. Essilor will contribute its expertise in optics and vision, optical materials technologies, and its knowledge of consumer needs in the field of ophthalmic products to this joint research venture.

The shared laboratory is focused on the research areas that Essilor and CNRS have identified in their previous joint research agreement, signed in April 2015. With its mission of “improving lives by improving sight”, Essilor is aiming to bring improved vision correction, protection to the billions of people worldwide who need to wear spectacles.

About the partners

The French National Center for Scientific Research is Europe's largest public research institution. With nearly 33,000 employees, a budget exceeding €3.3 billion in 2014, and offices throughout France, CNRS is active in all scientific disciplines through its more than 1100 laboratories.

With a 650-strong workforce, the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS) is one of the largest CNRS intramural research units. Based in Toulouse, southwestern France, it carries out research in four disciplines: information technology, automatics, robotics and micro-and nano-systems. An earlier joint laboratory with Essilor (called Pix-cell, which operated between 2005-2010) highlighted the key role of discontinuous active optical functions in ophthalmic optics and developed the basis for this technology.

Essilor in turn designs and manufactures a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. The company allocates more than €180 million to research and innovation every year, in a commitment to continuously bring new, more effective products to market. Its flagship brands are Varilux, Crizal, Transitions, Definity, Xperio, Optifog, Foster Grant, Bolon and Costa. The company also develops and markets equipment, instruments and services for eyecare professionals.

Essilor reported consolidated revenue of nearly €5.7 billion in 2014 and employs 58,000 people. It markets its products in more than 100 countries and has 33 plants, 490 prescription laboratories and edging facilities, as well as several research and development centers around the world.

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