DeepOptics 32°N adaptive focus sunglass

PETAH TIKVA, Israel—The first product to result from a collaboration between the Israeli tech company DeepOptics and EssilorLuxottica emerged last month in the form of an adaptive focus sunglass called 32°N (pronounced 32 North). The electronic shades are the subject of a Kickstarter campaign by DeepOptics which ends July 15. The crowdfunding effort has blown past its initial goal of $25,000, raising just over $255,000 to date from nearly 1,000 contributors. The campaign is significant not only for the amount of support it has generated but also for the fact that 32°N is the first product of its type, a functional sunglass that dynamically corrects for reading. Designed for emmetropic presbyopes, 32°N sunglasses enable wearers to select several different reading magnification powers with a single pair of glasses. As described last month in VMail’s LaunchPad section, the glasses mimic natural human vision, allowing users to seamlessly switch between “reading mode” for near vision and “scenic mode” for far distances with a simple swipe. This eliminates the need to switch between sunglasses and reading glasses while overcoming the limitations of progressive lenses and bifocals, according to DeepOptics.
The proprietary technology that makes this possible utilizes liquid crystal (LC) layers that are split into tiny pixels, capable of rotation at every point of the panel. When the user swipes, they activate a tiny processor embedded in the glasses’ temple. The processor calculates the user’s personal data and sends that data to form the desired lens prescription. Millions of tiny pixels inside the lens change their electrical state according to the new data to form the lens and bring the close object into focus. Completely silent, and without any extra weight or moving parts, DeepOptics’ LC lens enables an unlimited number of dynamic, high-quality lenses that can be changed at any moment.
The wearer’s initial reading magnification power is determined through a simple set-up process using a special phone app. The distance between centers of active lenses can be controlled and changed according to the wearer’s inter-pupilary-distance (IPD). The IPD can be modified for different viewing conditions.

 Yariv Haddad
The launch of DeepOptics’ first commercial product is also significant because it marks DeepOptics’ emergence from stealth mode. For nearly a decade, the company, based here, has been quietly developing the its proprietary liquid crystal tunable lens technology. To generate income, the company has collaborated with augmented and virtual reality companies to integrate its lenses into their devices, Yariv Haddad, CEO and co-founder of DeepOptics, told VMail.
The partnership between DeepOptics and EssilorLuxottica is rooted in the relationship between Haddad and Denis Cohen-Tannoudji, senior vice president smart vision solutions at Essilor. The two executives started talking with each about electronic eyewear nearly a decade ago. Their conversations led Essilor to take a stake in the DeepOptics in 2016, as VMail reported. Now, with financing from longtime backers Essilor (now EssilorLuxottica) and Samsung Ventures, DeepOptics is entering the ophthalmic optics market with an eye towards introducing other first-of-a-kind products.
EssilorLuxottica’s involvement with DeepOptics extends beyond financing to include R&D support. “Essilor has been proud to partner with Deep Optics for several years in developing smart eyewear solutions that adapt to the user’s environment and needs,” said Cohen-Tannoudji. “We are pleased with the company’s rollout of 32°N and happy to support this project with our engineering and design know-how.”

Denis Cohen-Tannoudji

In particular, EssilorLuxottica contributed its lens coating expertise to 32°N, Cohen-Tannoudji told VMail. “We have a specific filter technology which allows the lens to have a very good optical quality. And, as you might expect, we asked our Luxottica colleagues to give their feedback on the design of the frame itself. But the core of the technology is from DeepOptics.”
Haddad said that Essilor also lent its marketing support to the collaboration. “We are a technology-based company, and the marketing team at Essilor is much more familiar with what the market needs. They helped us focus on the right value proposition, not only in the actual engineering but also in planning the product and designing what kind of features we want to offer.
“We probably wouldn't be able to offer this kind of product at this level without the support of Essilor,” Haddad added. “This is the first collaboration, and we're expecting even deeper collaboration with future products.”
Both Haddad and Cohen-Tannoudji declined to say exactly what products their respective companies are developing or what the timetable for introducing them might be. However, Haddad said, “dynamic lenses that can address presbyopia will definitely be on our roadmap. We are actually planning a more complex product that includes automatic adaptation of the glasses with a sensor integrated into the sunglasses.”