Luminit: Reinventing the Wheel with AR/VR

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Engin Arik, CEO, LuminitEngin Arik, CEO
Small, low cost, lightweight, and transparent optics are critical to augmented and virtual reality products. However, wearables that make up most AR/VR products are heavy and bulky to use, often delivering unpleasant customer experiences. To overcome such setbacks, California-based Luminit brings to the table robust ultra-thin film optical solutions that are compact and affordable alternatives to traditional AR/VR optics.

Luminit has a long history in manufacturing thin film optics. The company’s core product, Light Shaping Diffusers®, uses a patented holographic master recording technology that reshapes and redirects light more efficiently than traditional diffusers. Luminit’s diffusion technology is based on microstructures imprinted on thin film, rigid or semi-rigid polycarbonate, or acrylic substrates. Invisible to the naked eye are pseudo-random, structures that are replicated from a holographically-recorded master. When exposed to a light source, the microstructures manipulate light by changing the direction of its energy.
“Unlike other diffusers in the market, we can precisely control the diffusion angle in a symmetric or asymmetric cone using refractive and diffractive micro-optics,” says Engin Arik, Luminit’s CEO. Expertise in this field prompted Luminit to develop optical products for the display industry such as Transparent Holographic Components (THCs) for Augmented Reality devices and Head-up Displays (HUDs) as well as Direction Turning Film (DTF) for avionics displays. “Luminit owns a large portion of this value chain, and we are able to design, simulate, master, produce initial first articles, and mass manufacture thin, cost-effective, compact optical components to meet the needs of AR devices and HUDs,” adds Arik.

Based on Holographic Optical Elements, Luminit Transparent Holographic Components direct light and mimic the properties of positive optical lenses and other conventional bulky optics. Because THCs replace lenses, mirrors, and gratings without adding weight, they allow manufacturers of augmented reality glasses to design stylish, lightweight smart glasses by incorporating holograms within the body of lenses. These optical elements can be used for AR-based near-to-eye and head up display applications as a combiner and enable virtual image distances of 1-meter or farther. THCs can reproduce multi-color images with unparalleled transparency of 90 percent, projecting bright virtual images without any obstruction of view. THCs are also actively being used in automotive HUDs to display dashboard instrument readings on vehicle windshields so drivers can view speed, GPS directions, etc., without taking their eyes off the road. “Holographic technology has been around for many years since the invention of lasers in the 1960s, but their applications were limited due to their high cost of production,” states Arik. “We at Luminit have developed a novel method of replicating holograms on a roll-to-roll platform, for use in AR glasses, helmets, and windshields.”

Another byproduct of Luminit optical technology is Direction Turning Film (DTF). In addition to solving common problems in interior and exterior lighting structures, DTF can be incorporated into display panels, such as those that are used in avionics, and redirects an image 20° up, down, left, or right to gain optimal viewing angles in limited spaces.

Since its inception in 2006, Luminit has grown profitably by building holographic mastering labs and developing the ability to ‘record or direct-write’ random or periodic microstructures on a photoresist. More recently, the company established a joint venture in Taiwan with RitDisplay that has fully automated electroforming facilities, CNC machines, and various high tonnage machines, in order to facilitate the injection molding of LSD and LSM microstructures on curved surfaces. The firm is further committed to collaborating with strategic partners to expedite its innovative efforts in bringing AR/VR technologies to life.

"We specialize in innovating and mass manufacturing thin optical components, thereby eliminating a long-standing predicament of compact light shaping solutions"

- Engin Arik, CEO