Meta Acquires Smart Eyeglass Maker for Prescription AR Glasses
Expanding its reach in AR, Meta has acquired Luxexcel, a company that 3D prints lenses for prescription eyewear and the next generation of smart wearables.
Facebook's parent company Meta has acquired Belgian-Dutch company Luxexcel with its eyes set on smart technology integrated with 3D-printed lenses. This acquisition, confirmed by Meta, will likely assist Meta’s Reality Labs in producing augmented reality (AR) glasses for everyday use.
Luxexcel claims it can integrate displays, waveguides, and thin films within a lens, allowing it to develop smart glasses. Screenshot used courtesy of Luxexcel
When asked about the acquisition, a Meta spokesperson hinted at a preexisting relationship between the two companies, likely focused on Meta’s AR research program Project Aria. This recent acquisition follows Meta’s demonstration of its first generation of smart glasses, making it possible that Luxexcel will aid in developing prescription AR glasses.
This article examines Luxexcel's technology to determine how the company fits in the broader Meta ecosystem. In addition, we'll also assess the applications of Luxexcel technology as standalone devices and key components in future smart wearables.
Additively Manufactured Lenses
Luxexcel, founded in 2009, set out to completely change the lens manufacturing process. Traditionally, lens manufacturing relies on subtractive processes such as grinding or polishing, reducing the production speed and integration potential while increasing the material cost for the lens. The Luxexcel technology platform, on the other hand, produces an additively manufactured (AM) lens that can be more easily integrated with advanced technology to design smart glasses.
The Luxexcel VisionPlatform encompasses the entire design process for custom lenses, from the software used to design lenses to the materials used in the printing process. Image used courtesy of Luxexcel
The Luxexcel process, termed the VisionPlatform, allows manufacturers to produce lenses at scale with sufficient precision, earning Luxexcel ANSI, ISO, and FDA certifications on its lenses. The process uses an inkjet-based 3D printer, which deposits billions of droplets in precise locations to form a lens. Since liquid material is used, as droplets collide with each other, they merge before locking in place, creating the smooth surface required of prescription lenses.
Shifting Reality on Command
In addition to its production capabilities, Luxexcel has also targeted smart glasses as a potential application for the VisionPlatform—likely a motivator behind Meta’s acquisition of the company. So far, Luxexcel has integrated a full-color waveguide inside an AM prescription lens with the potential for high-quality images to be projected on the glasses. In addition, the AM process allows for complex lens shapes to be implemented, allowing optimal projector placement.
An AM lens from Luxexcel with an included projector slot may be used to discreetly integrate a projector with the lens. Image used courtesy of Luxexcel
Since Meta’s Reality Labs has been seeking out prescription AR glasses, it is no surprise that Meta was interested in acquiring Luxexcel. Luxexcel's technology will integrate with Meta’s progress in both AR and VR products, such as its Quest headset. Details surrounding the acquisition or previous collaborations are scarce, so it’s not certain how Meta plans to use Luxexcel’s expertise.
The Next Generation of Smart Wearables
Luxexcel gives designers the ability to rapidly prototype and integrate lenses for smart glasses with more flexibility than traditional lens manufacturing techniques. Luxexcel's AM method also allows for direct in-lens integration. Although several companies have reported successful integration with projectors and waveguides, Luxexcel's image quality, refresh rate, or compatibility across users has yet to be verified.