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Analysis of Lucyd’s AR Technology by Dr. Yiorgos Kostoulas

Lucyd Lens
Yiorgos Kostoulas, Ph.D.*
Augmented and virtual reality, two related but very different technology areas, have been in the news for a number of years. Virtual reality seeks to completely replace the physical world, while augmented reality adds new layers to it. In virtual reality, you are in a 100% simulated world (with which you can interact), while in augmented reality, the world becomes your screen and the physical environment is enhanced to deliver contextually relevant digital content to the user. Virtual reality is hot now but it is being replaced by augmented reality.
So the question becomes, “How to get augmented reality to the consumer?” What is needed is a hardware platform that consumers will want to use, and the software/content to match it. In the second half of this year, two technology giants announced their intentions to bring augmented reality to the consumer market via mobile devices. In June of 2017, Apple announced the release of its new ARKit, and in August Google followed suit with the debut of ARCore. Their respective developers immediately set to work creating new consumer-oriented augmented reality games and apps. These moves follow the release of AR Studio by Facebook in April of 2017. These developments begin to address the required software framework for creating augmented reality content, but that is only half of the equation. The other half is the development of a hardware platform that can address all requirements for a successful consumer adoption.
What kind of hardware platform will consumers use to experience augmented reality? Snap filters and Pokémon GO™ prepared consumers for a more robust augmented reality experience on their mobile devices. In turn, the use of mobile devices is paving the way for the next hardware platform: augmented reality (AR) glasses, also referred to as smartglasses. Before smartglasses hit the mainstream however, a number of milestones need to be reached.
The first one is size and weight. While early adopters may be willing to put up with bulky hardware, the size and weight of AR glasses will be an important factor for ultimate consumer success. Optical technology is a major driver of size and weight, and it is a critical technical aspect that manufacturers of smartglasses will need to master. With the advent of freeform optics,[i] and the use of 3D printing for their manufacture,[ii],[iii] it is now possible to create complicated lens shapes without compromising the form factor of the final product.
The configuration of the glasses will also play a significant role in achieving the right form factor. Ideally, smartglasses will be a standalone product, with all control electronics small enough to be inside the frame. That should include power sources and processors.
Battery life and efficiency are also key factors. Much of the essential functionality of smartglasses (GPS tracking, providing geographically accurate contextual content) can lead to overheated electronics, which can also affect performance. Dissipating that heat is a challenge that smartglass manufacturers need to overcome.
Developing the right user interface is also vital. Consumers will be loyal to the smartglass manufacturer that offers users a smooth experience and a UI that allows them to easily navigate the new AR ecosystem. Finally, audio and video quality are fundamental to this technology’s success.
These challenges are formidable, but Lucyd is in a position to address them directly. Lucyd Lens seeks to develop the first pair of smartglasses that is lightweight, ergonomic, wire-free, comfortable, encompassing,  accommodates corrective lenses and appears like a normal pair of glasses. It will be an interactive AR peripheral that can display Android and iOS content in AR, while also supporting Lucyd-native content.
The fundamental technology pieces (optics, displays, eye tracking) are available now. Combining them under the guidance of a high caliber executive and scientific advisory team, Lucyd can potentially become the first augmented reality smartglass developer with an ergonomic product for the market in the near future.
[i]       Kevin P. Thompson and Jannick P. Rolland, “Freeform Optical Surfaces: A Revolution in Imaging Optical Design,” Optics & Photonics News 23(6), 30-35 (2012)
[ii]     Gissibl, T., Thiele, S., Herkommer, A., Giessen, H., “Sub-micrometre accurate free-form optics by three-dimensional printing on single-mode fibres”, Nature Communications 7,
[iii]   Hong, Z.. Liang, R., “IR-laser assisted additive freeform optics manufacturing”, Nature,
*Dr. Kostoulas is an optics expert and Associate Professor, Division of General Engineering at Vanderbilt University and science advisor to Lucyd PTE Ltd
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