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Vuzix opens 'unique' waveguide facility

28 Sep 2023

Maker of smart glasses says it has begun sampling waveguide components fabricated at its new Rochester facility.

Vuzix, the US-based producer of augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, says that its new optical waveguide manufacturing facility is up and running, with devices now being sampled.

Located adjacent to the Nasdaq-listed firm’s headquarters in Rochester, New York, the site currently encompasses 12,000 square feet of primarily class 1K and class 10K clean rooms, with the option to lease a further 27,000 square feet if and when there is sufficient demand.

HUDs and more
Vuzix is planning to both use the waveguides in its own products and for customer programs, with the initial run of components targeted for use in its “Ultralite” OEM platform, for both Android and iOS smart phones.

“In addition to significantly increasing unit capacity and lowering manufacturing costs, the new facility will also focus on the advancement of higher index materials, advanced glass substrates and unique formulation technologies,” announced the firm.

“Broad in-house capabilities also include rapid specification to design, mold production, replication and test, system integration, and waveguide fabrication that will now include small and large format waveguide designs.

“This unique waveguide manufacturing facility enables not only the anticipated multi-billion-dollar augmented reality smart glasses market but other large markets like heads-up displays for in-vehicle use cases and more.”

CEO Paul Travers added: “We believe this is a one-of-a-kind production facility, one that significantly leverages our years of waveguide expertise from design through to production.

“Waveguides represent a fundamental cornerstone technology to the AR wearables industry and this facility was specifically designed and built from the ground up to make them in high volumes and at industry-leading competitive costs.”

Opportunities
Last month, Travers said that he saw “substantial opportunities” in the OEM side of the Vuzix business, including new programs for defense, consumer, and enterprise products made by its customers.

“As a result, we expect to continue to see strength in our overall revenues for the balance of 2023 fueled by stronger sales of core smart glasses, and engineering services and OEM components that we expect will confirm record revenues for all of calendar 2023,” Travers told investors discussing the firm’s financial results for the June quarter.

He added that the firm’s OEM business, which includes engineering services and waveguide and display engine sales, was gaining momentum with new programs expected to kick-off in the current quarter - with the new facility playing a critical role, and scheduled for an official “grand opening” ceremony in early December.

Last year, the firm agreed a deal with defense contractor L3Harris Technologies to develop a customized waveguide-based optics engine for head-mounted systems designed for military applications.

And in July it announced a similar arrangement with an unspecified OEM customer for waveguides and optical engines set to be designed into a customized head-mounted display solution used across multiple commercial and industrial systems.

The latest results indicated that Vuzix had posted an operating loss of $9.6 million on sales of $4.7 million for the three months ending June 30, with just under $50 million in cash on its balance sheet.

“Our overall outlook for the remainder of 2023 remains unchanged and filled with enthusiasm,” Travers concluded at the time.

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