Quanta, a Fortune 500 company and one of the world’s largest original design manufacturers, has signed an agreement to mass produce AR display modules from Lumus, a company specializing in AR displays based on ‘waveguide’ optical technology. Lumus says the move “marks a significant step toward mainstream adoption of AR eyewear,” and expects consumer-priced AR headsets with Lumus tech to hit the market in 12 to 18 months.
Though Quanta is a manufacturer and supplier for a number of major consumer tech companies, like HP and Acer, Bloomberg reports that the company is “one of Apple’s main manufacturing partners,” and gets nearly 60% of its revenue from Apple, which is reportedly developing an AR headset. Neither Quanta nor Lumus have confirmed that Apple will be sourcing the newly manufactured display module, though Lumus claims “top consumer tech brands” will make use of the component.
According to Lumus VP of Marketing David Goldman, the display & optics constitute the most expensive components in an AR headset. Quanta’s licensing and manufacturing of several of Lumus’ AR display modules stands to bring the total costs of AR headsets down into the consumer realm, Goldman says, which he suggests could cost less than a flagship smartphone.
Quanta’s deal with Lumus follows a $45 million investment closed in 2016 which was led by Quanta, with participation from HTC, Shanda Group, and others.
Israel-based Lumus has been working on transparent optics since 2000. The company has developed a unique form of waveguide technology which allows images to be projected through and from incredibly thin glass. The tech has been sold in various forms for military and other non-consumer applications.
In recent years the company has begin positioning its offerings toward the consumer AR realm. With display modules offering fields of view around 40 degrees, AR headsets enabled by this deal aren’t likely to be particularly immersive. However, Lumus is working on a new product they call the Maximus, a waveguide optic with a 55 degree field of view—among the highest in its class—which we got to demo earlier this year. Lumus’ David Goldman says the company expects to be able to push field of view even higher in the future.