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Smart eyewear gets a 3D makeover

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image courtesy Vuzix

Vuzix, a prominent Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technology supplier, has joined forces with Materialise, a pioneer in 3D printing, to expedite the design and production of smart eyewear using 3D printing technology.

The collaboration aims to accelerate the development of innovative enterprise applications and enable third-party brands to introduce functional, fashionable, and affordable smart eyewear to consumers. The average manufacturing cycle is expected to be reduced from 18 months to just 3 months.

Vuzix specializes in optical components and smart glasses that incorporate augmented reality (AR) to create a seamless integration between the digital and physical worlds. By partnering with Materialise, an experienced player in 3D printing, Vuzix gains access to the full potential of this technology to offer an exciting range of smart eyewear.

Augmented reality has proven to enhance user effectiveness in various industries, enabling hands-free access to digital information while remaining fully aware of the physical environment. Smart eyewear is utilized by medical professionals during surgeries to access remote expertise, while manufacturing and logistics companies leverage AR features to improve efficiency and reduce errors. Incorporating 3D printing in smart eyewear production can significantly reduce design cycles and enable faster response to technological advancements.

The limited adoption of smart eyewear among consumers is attributed to the lack of compelling applications and fashionable, affordable designs. Vuzix and Materialise aim to overcome these challenges by creating innovative and appealing designs that cater to companies seeking to introduce smart eyewear to consumers.

Exciting consumer applications of smart eyewear include displaying speed and heart rate for athletes, providing push notifications and navigation, enabling speech-to-text translation, and enhancing augmented reality gaming. Many companies in the technology, fashion, entertainment, and sports sectors lack the manufacturing expertise to bring these applications to life in a timely manner. The collaboration between Vuzix and Materialise offers third-party OEM companies a flexible platform for producing smart eyewear with creative designs, rapid prototyping services, and fast and flexible small-scale production.

Materialise operates one of the world's largest 3D printing factories and is the leading manufacturer of 3D-printed eyewear. Eyewear manufacturers are increasingly turning to 3D printing for its unique design capabilities and fast, flexible production proces and virtually unlimited design possibilities. 3D printing also reduces time-to-market, enabling the transition from initial design to finished product in less than three months, compared to the industry's typical 18-month cycle.

Materialise's CEO, Fried Vancraen, said in a statement that the speed and flexibility of their dedicated 3D printing factory for eyewear, provides brands with a competitive advantage by reducing time-to-market and meeting aesthetic requirements.

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