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€50m smart glasses lab for Milan

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty


Politecnico di Milano has signed an agreement with French group EssilorLuxottica for a joint Smart Eyewear Laboratory.

The lab in Milan will host R&D activities for the next generation of connected glasses, combining digital technologies with bioengineering, physics of matter and AI skills. The lab will have an initial investment of over €50m and will employ more than 100 researchers.

Europe has key skills in smart glasses technology, which is seen as the next volume consumer interface after mobile phones. EssilorLuxottica has already been working with Facebook on smart glasses under its Ray ban brand.

The EssilorLuxottica Smart Eyewear Lab will initially last five years, working on the development of core hardware, software and application technologies to enable humans to interact with the digital world.

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The lab’s industrial research and experimental development will be divided into five macro-objectives: analysis and development of electronic and photonic components, as well as algorithms to acquire, process and offer real-world information via augmented reality to the user. The development will integrate the technology within various prototype glasses by developing materials, charging systems and algorithms to certify their performance in real environments.

The lab will work as part of the EssilorLuxottica Group’s R&D platform, which has over 30 R&D centres globally with around 1,000 researchers and more than 11,000 patents. Alongside Ray Ban, the group owns brands such as Oakley and Transitions.

The two will also work on a curriculum for wearables and smart eyewear to attract young talent, PhDs, researchers and teaching staff, including courses taught in English.

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“The agreement with EssilorLuxottica represents a milestone in the development of the ‘Goccia di Bovisa’ area, for several reasons,” said the Rector of Politecnico di Milano, Ferruccio Resta.

“Certainly, the first one is that the University now works alongside an internationally recognized example of excellence, an Italian group that is synonymous with innovation – a great catalyst for other entrepreneurial and research within the innovation district taking shape in the Gasometri area. The second reason relates to the realm in which we will operate: the metaverse, of which we can only guess the possibilities today, is a complex area of study and experimentation, involving technological fields developed within the University: from electronics, to photonics, to data science. It opens up unprecedented perspectives that are not limited to technological innovation or the development of new products, but reshape entire processes, services and relationships. It is precisely on this basis that the Joint Research Centre will operate over the next five years.”

“Innovation is at the heart of EssilorLuxottica’s business model,” said Francesco Milleri, Chairman and CEO of EssilorLuxottica. “The lines between physical and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly blurred, outlining completely unprecedented horizons and offering a unique challenge that will propel us into the future. These new models are keys for unlocking an enormous potential of development for the job market and the entire economic system.”

www.essilorluxottica.com; www.polimi.it

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