Tech Startup Deep Optics Pursues New Approach to Electronic Focusing Eyeglasses

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PETACH TIKVA, Israel—For the past three-and-a-half years, Deep Optics, a high-tech startup based here, has kept a low profile as it has worked to develop an electronic focusing lens and glasses system. But the company’s announcement on Monday that it has raised $4 million in a Series A funding round that included Essilor, Taiwan-based Atomics 14 Ventures and several additional private investors is focusing new attention on the fledgling category of dynamic focal glasses.

Not since PixelOptics exited the market in 2013 has another company announced they are developing an electronic focusing lens, largely due to the technological challenges involved in creating a lens that can change focus as the wearer’s gaze shifts. Deep Focus’s glasses, which it calls “omnifocals,” are still in development and won’t be on the market for two to three years. The proprietary glasses are equipped with eye tracking sensors that detect the viewing distance and control the lens so that it adjusts its power accordingly. The entire field of view is used for viewing all distances.

According to Yariv Haddad, co-founder and CEO of Deep Optics, the company’s patent-pending technology supports both negative and positive power and can be used to develop a lens with an optical addition of 3 diopters and a size of 30mm, making it suitable for multifocal prescriptions.

Haddad told VMail that the electronic lenses, which uses liquid crystal technology, could be used with a wide range of eyeglass frame styles. “The only restriction in frame selection would be to have a frame that can accommodate an electronic chip about half a millimeter wide. Aesthetically, you want to have this chip hidden in the frame. Initially, we would want to have frames that are not rimless, with some sort of body to them. The frame would also have to accommodate a battery,” he added.

Deep Optics is also exploring additional applications for its adaptive electronic lens technology, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) systems. Deep Optics has already started discussions with companies in this field, Haddad said.

Essilor recently announced that it will pursue research into lenses and glasses with “active and connected functions.” Asked to comment on its investment in Deep Optics, an Essilor spokesperson told VMail, “Essilor is committed to innovate in order to offer consumers the best eyewear solutions, in line with its mission of improving lives by improving sight. Given relentless expansion of vision needs in the world, we investigate new research areas, which includes partnering with leading edge experts to reach a common ambition. We expect product applications with improved performance in visual correction and comfort as well as new uses of eyewear within a few years.

“Essilor brings [to the deal] its expertise of vision, ophthalmic optics, materials as well as its knowledge of customers’ needs,” the Essilor spokesperson said.

Click here to watch a video about Deep Optics’ electronic eyeglass technology.