More Than Meets the Eye: Bosch Enables the Next Generation of Smartglasses

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At CES® in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bosch Sensortec launches an innovative optical Light Drive system for smartglasses. The Bosch Smartglasses Light Drive module is a sole source, all-in-one technology stack consisting of MEMS mirrors, optical elements, sensors, and onboard processing. This integrated solution delivers a clean visual experience with bright images that are always in focus—even in direct sunlight.

The disruptive Bosch Light Drive technology revolutionizes all-day wearables with perceived total transparency for the user, and with radical social acceptance because it is nearly invisible to others. Additionally, the technology can also be applied to optimize performance of waveguide systems for which integration packages are in development.

There is no externally visible display or integrated camera, the two pitfalls that have alienated users of other smartglasses technologies. The smaller size allows designers to overcome the bulky, cumbersome characteristics of many of today’s smartglasses. For the first time, a turnkey system enables smaller, lighter, more stylish smartglasses designs that meet the visual and comfort needs of everyone. The tiny module is also big news for those who wear eyeglasses for vision correction—a significant market, since six out of ten people use corrective lenses every day1.

"The Smartglasses Light Drive system is the smallest and lightest product on the market today and is, therefore, able to turn almost any regular spectacles into smartglasses," says Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO of Bosch Sensortec. "By eliminating distracting phone usage, smartglasses can help improve driving safety and reduce the impulse of users to constantly check their mobile devices for notifications or messages."

Bosch Sensortec’s innovative Smartglasses Light Drive solution paves the way for a day without digital fatigue. The system displays the perfect balance of just-in-time hands-free information in a minimalist format, making it ideal for applications including navigation, calls, and notifications such as alarms, calendar reminders, and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat. Everyday note-based information like to-do and shopping checklists are exceptionally convenient.

To date, these applications have been primarily restricted to devices with physical displays like smartphones or smartwatches. Smartglasses minimize socially unacceptable behavior such as obsessive phone checking, and help improve driver safety by providing hands-free, transparent heads-up navigation directions. The new technology promises to broaden the scope and availability of apps and information, coupled with instant access to relevant data, social media, and intuitive control of audio playback.

Innovative technology in a tiny package

A microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based collimated light scanner inside the Bosch Smartglasses Light Drive module scans a holographic element (HOE) that is embedded in the lens of the smartglasses. This HOE redirects the light beam onto the human retina surface, directly painting a picture that is always in focus.

The technology enables hands-free, secure viewing of practically any data from a connected mobile device, such as a paired smartphone, overlaid in a comfortable viewing position. The projected high-resolution image is crisp, bright, private, and clearly visible even in direct sunlight thanks to its adaptive brightness.

The Bosch Light Drive technology is compatible with curved and corrective lenses, making this new tech appealing and available to users who already wear prescription glasses. Older competitor display technologies are hindered by a haze or rainbow glare called stray light that is visible when the system is switched off. The Bosch Light Drive technology provides pleasing all-day optical transparency with minimal stray light sensitivity, meaning the view is always crystal clear, and that distracting internal reflections are a thing of the past.

Smallest Smartglasses Light Drive solution on the market

The new complete turnkey Light Drive system is the smallest comparable solution available on the market, delivering a depth reduction of 30 percent compared to existing solutions. It measures approximately 45-75 mm x 5-10 mm x 8 mm (L x H x W, depending on customer integration) and weighs less than 10 grams. This makes it easy for glasses manufacturers to flexibly reduce the width of the glasses frame to create a stylish design, and eliminate the visibly chunky design of first-generation smartglasses. Social acceptance and broad adoption have the potential to make retinal Light Drive technologies the next boom for manufacturers of consumer electronics display devices.

End-to-end solution for smartglasses manufacturers

Bosch Sensortec provides a turnkey Light Drive solution – designed and built in-house to ensure consistent high quality, reliability, and performance, whilst being able to quickly respond to market and customer demands for product modifications. Bosch Sensortec is the only end-to-end system provider of such retinal Light Drive technology and can further leverage this position by offering an extensive range of complementary devices and solutions. The smartglasses module is enriched by several sensor solutions, such as Bosch’s smart sensor BHI260, the barometric pressure sensor BMP388, and the BMM150 magnetometer. The sensors enable intuitive user interface features such as multi-tap functions on the frame to improve convenience while operating the glasses.

The Bosch Smartglasses Light Drive solution will be available in 2021 to high-volume manufacturers as part number BML500P.



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