Electrochromic Coatings With Variable Tinting for Augmented Reality Glasses

Technology Overview

Rapid developments in the utility and performance of consumer electronics and wearable devices give rise to the demand for materials that offer uncompromised performance to the user-experience (Ux). There is growing interest from the AR sector to enable ‘smart-glasses’ to actively control light transmission, allowing for seamless transitions between indoor-outdoor environments.

Alternative technologies have, thus far, demonstrated untenable limitations, such as slow switching response of photochromics and high power consumption associated with liquid-crystal technology. Conducting polymers are a class of materials combining the electrical properties of metals and semiconductors, with the mechanical flexibility and lightweight properties of traditional polymers. As with many new advanced materials, the ability to scale the manufacturing for industrial use is a challenge.

This technology presents a patented fabrication process of conducting polymers which draws parallels from modern day OLED manufacturing, enabling the application of electrochromic coatings that vary the transmissivity of wearable displays to increase the contrast of augmented images in varying light conditions.

Technology Features & Specifications

This technology realises high performance conducting polymers via a scalable fabrication process that:

  • Allows switching the transparency by up to 50% for a selection of colours (grey, blue, yellow, and sepia)
  • Enables tuning of the transparency range (i.e. 10-60% or 20-70% etc.)
  • Offers a unique polymer ‘memory effect’, requiring no more than a 1.5V pulse to transition between states

This technology is well suited to glass substrates and is currently being developed for use on curved plastics.

Potential Applications

This technology is ideal for immersive technologies such as AR where digital information (the image overlay) needs to contrast against ambient background light to avoid light saturation. Specialist coatings manufacturers and AR headset developers can utilise this technology to optimise the Ux of wearables.

Customer Benefits

  • Flexible, lightweight optical coatings
  • Energy efficient, rapid tinting
  • Mass production from low-cost, readily available materials and polymer deposition analogous to OLED manufacturing
  • Improving contrast control and Ux under ambient light saturation

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