Lingxi AR, the manufacturer of AR optical waveguide module, announced its financing of tens of millions yuan from A+ round led by Sunny V Fund and followed by Zhongguancun Development Group. Lingxi AR won A round led by Sequoia Capital China in 2017.
Since its founding four years ago, Lingxi has been committed to the optical waveguide display technology of AR glasses. Today it owns an AR optical waveguide module that is thinner than ordinary myopic lenses and weighs only 12g as blessed with the 10,000-level mass production capacity of ultra-small optical waveguide module to date. After this round of financing, thanks to Sunny Optical’s optoelectronics industry, Lingxi will accelerate the large-scale production of optical waveguide module.
“Optical display modules are the most critical and scarcest core component in AR glasses,” said Yu Zheng, CEO of Lingxi.
Due to the complex technology and a difficult manufacturing process, there are no more than five suppliers of optical waveguide modules in the world, and manufacturers with mass production capacity are extremely rare. A new high-end optical device is unlikely to develop very well in a year or two. It usually requires years of technology accumulation and a long process of development cycle. Over the years, as the optical waveguide technology is not proven, AR enterprises such as Meta and ODG have given favor to transition optical solutions, and some international manufacturers even delayed the mass production planning of AR glasses.
Lingxi fills the gap in the global industrial chain. After years of accumulation, Lingxi has reinforcement in research and development, technology and mass production, and developed optical modules of two different processes, namely array optical waveguide and holographic optical waveguide. Its optical waveguide module features very fine display effect in performance. The AW series optical modules eliminate 90% of the fringes effect and are on par with sharpness and contrast. In the miniaturization of the buffing machine, Lingxi has a significant advantage: the smallest optical waveguide module of Lingxi only weighs 12g and is 1/2 of the volume of competitors.
In addition to display effect and miniaturization, the greater difficulty of optical waveguide lies in mass production. Since the array optical waveguide boasts better display effect and higher feasibility in mass production and cost control, Lingxi takes the lead in putting the array optical waveguide into mass production. After difficult process breakthrough and production line debugging, Lingxi has broken down the silo of mass production of optical waveguide. The company owns a 10,000-level optical waveguide module production line, and will complete the capacity expansion in Q4 2019, preparing for the upcoming consumer-end AR glasses market.
Due to the maturity of the upstream optical waveguide module, a large number of AR glasses will be put on the market in the next 2-3 years.
According to Effie Li, partner of Sunny V fund, V Fund selects leading R&D startups in the global AR industry and acknowledges that Lingxi has the dual advantages of design and technology in the field of AR core optical module—array optical waveguide, breaks through the bottleneck of mass production and has the first-mover advantage facing the huge market opportunity of AR.
Partnering with Lingxi AR is a strong alliance both for designing and manufacturing. It also helps Sunny Optical to lay out the key nodes of AR industry.
Chunping Wang, founding partner of Zhongguancun Qihang Investment implied that behind the investment, we are optimistic about the development of AR industry, and Lingxi gains the leading position in the field of AR optical display technology.
As the upstream optical waveguide module is becoming mature, it is foreseeable that a large number of AR glasses will be launched in the next 2-3 years. This financing will be mainly used to improve the technology of optical waveguide modules and secure capacity for the mainstream AR glasses market.