FTPS: SCHOTT x Lumus - Header image

A new era of augmented reality

Up to this point, the prospect of augmented reality glasses becoming mainstream consumer devices, worn by millions of users around the world – even replacing mobile phones – is on its way.


Today, even as the technical capabilities of augmented reality glasses continue to improve, another challenge inhibits them from reaching their potential: scale. Whereas global supply chains and manufacturing processes for devices like cell phones and laptops have long been established and fine-tuned, that is hardly the case for augmented reality glasses. Without the ability to scale, even the most advanced augmented reality glasses could only get so far.  It was within that nexus, bridging that gap between high-performance optical design and world-class advanced optical manufacturing, that Lumus and SCHOTT began their partnership.

FTPS: SCHOTT x Lumus - background image

Built on a shared foundation of advanced optics

Since its inception in 1884, SCHOTT has been a pioneer in advancing the concepts, materials, capabilities, and manufacturing processes of the optics industry. It was this rich history in advanced optics, as well as a long-established global hub for mass manufacturing optical components in Malaysia for around 50 years, that made the company uniquely positioned to evolve its high-index optical glass products and iron out the specific manufacturing requirements of AR devices. A decade ago, SCHOTT created the Strategic Business Field Augmented Reality, and has been working on high-index glass wafers, marketed as SCHOTT RealView®, ever since.



In 2019, SCHOTT entered a strategic partnership with Lumus. The world class optics firm is dedicated to developing exceptionally efficient reflective AR waveguides that merge digital and physical worlds like never before. Lumus’s reflective waveguide optical element technology enables the most natural-looking, sleek, and compact optical designs. Reputable industry analysts like Karl Guttag laud the technology, stating that “Lumus, with their Z-Lens 2-D reflective waveguides, seems to have a big advantage in image quality and efficiency over the many diffractive waveguides.

Working hand in hand with SCHOTT’s advanced optical manufacturing pedigree, the two highly-committed industry leaders with complementary strengths set out with one goal in mind: augmented reality glasses that are not only best-in-class from a performance and wearability standpoint, but manufacturable at industry scale  and therefore cost-effective to end users – as well.

SCHOTT and Lumus: innovation fueled by collaboration

Between the two companies is an ongoing exchange - new ideas, designs, and capabilities are conceptualized, converted into products, and pressure tested to see what is manufacturable on an industrial scale. Where Lumus’s job is developing groundbreaking designs for potential AR see-through-displays, SCHOTT’s job is to make them a reality – and that goes far beyond supplying glass wafers to produce finished waveguides ready for AR devices.
Ruediger Sprengard, Head of Augmented Reality at SCHOTT
We test the idea, we find what is manufacturable, what is possible on the shop floor. For reflective waveguides we run the entire supply chain internally. Starting with melting glass in Germany, then continue the journey to Malaysia where we have a plant that does the full integration of manufacturing steps. This is a strong proof point for the Advanced Optics core DNA, underlining that enabling vision is our territory.

Solution: A manufacturing evolution before the AR revolution

When the two companies first set off, only prototyping based on lab processes was possible. In the time since the partnership began, SCHOTT manages the control of the entire process -- from melting raw blocks of optical glass to processing the raw glass into final waveguides -- developing specific solutions and continuously improving and stabilizing the overall flow of manufacturing.

SCHOTT’s vertically integrated production chain leverages over a century of expertise across coating applications, precision polishing, bonding, contouring, and final assembly. Today, all phases of product development in consumer electronics are supported.

Highly technical waveguide lenses begin their journey as a block of raw glass, before being melted down.

Starting from melting a block of glass in Germany ...

 Waveguides continue their production journey.

... to producing proof-of-concept prototypes and engineering samples in Malaysia, allowing customers to build thousands of test devices for verification and system integration.

After a series of highly technical production steps, the final product: a state-of-the-art waveguide that will enable the next generation of augmented reality.

This complex process includes coating, stacking, slicing, polishing, and shaping the glass, which is thoroughly inspected after production.

Making AR accessible for consumers

The market always pushes for more cost-effective, higher-performing materials – but the price for AR consumer devices remains high, just like the early days of cell phones that cost thousands of dollars. While technical challenges remain, steady progress in advanced optics and core components paves the way for more affordable and sleek AR devices. Through a shared culture of innovation, SCHOTT and Lumus have fostered a diverse field of scientists and engineers whose collective effort remains focused on building a scalable manufacturing process that will drive the cost of smart glasses down.

Ari Grobman, Lumus CEO
We’ve been working with SCHOTT for several years. And beyond their professionalism, beyond everything they bring to the table from the technical level - the actual comradery between both companies’ teams is fantastic. They have a culture of innovation that is very much shared with the culture we have here at Lumus. And that’s why the relationship has been so successful. The proof is ultimately in the product.

That means consumers can purchase smart glasses at consumer price points. In 2024, the companies extended the partnership to include new optical architectures for even better performance and flexibility in design of the AR glasses – and if the history of technology teaches anything, a breakthrough application or disruptive design could further ignite the market.

SCHOTT and Lumus are paving the way to make such a future achievable.

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