Lumus's upgraded waveguide technology could be the answer to practical, high-quality AR glasses for the mass market. At CES 2023 I demoed Lumus's Z-Lens, which promise the best brightness, field-of-view and battery life of any mixed reality device of its kind.
While Lumus isn't creating its own line of augmented reality glasses, the company is reportedly working with several top-tier tech companies to supply lenses sporting Lumus's waveguide technology. That said, for the sake of the demo, I tried on a prototype to see what the Z-Lens's 2D waveguide technology can do.
The glasses initially impressed with their approachable design; in fact, they could be mistaken for normal eyewear. I can't say the same about other AR or display glasses I've tried. Even the lenses that house the waveguides look discreet unless you catch the right angle of light.
These waveguides are used to manipulate projections that are pushed out from the top corners of glasses frames. Both lenses move the projections at angles inward and down to product an image that fell in the center of my vision. And even if I closed one of my eyes, I could see the full projection through the other.
Lumus says that the Z-Lens are 5 to 10 times brighter — up to a claimed 4,000 nits — than other waveguide lenses, and that they're the "only" waveguide suited for outdoor use. The brightness can also adjust based on ambient lighting. What's more, even while producing a brighter image, Z-Lens glasses should last somewhere around 6 hours.
I looked at a few images and animations through the Z-Lens, and can honestly say I've never seen AR in such clarity and vibrance. In a 50-degree projection, pictures of parrots demonstrated better color volume that I could've expected. None of the colors looked washed out, including which, which Lumus explained, is difficult to reproduce in AR applications.
All the while, the rest of the space in my field of view looked perfectly clear. I still felt present enough during the meeting to carry on with conversation and remain aware of my surroundings.
If this is what using consumer AR lenses will be like, consider me sold.
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