IC03 Kopin Has a Real Business in AR/VR

Hong Choi is from Kopin and replaced Dr John Fan, who was due to speak. Choi is CTO for the company.

Kopin is focused on AR & VR and is shipping displays, supplying ip and also making smart glasses. The company is financially strong with $85 million cash and no debt.

The company has been supplying transmissive LCD for some time based on a crystal silicon backplane and the firm has shipped more than 35 million devices. The company has five display modules for AR headset applications. It has a presence in military, avionics and enterprise applications.

Customers include Fujitsu, Google, Vuzix, Real Wear, Lenovo, Rockwell, Elbit, Thales, Intel Recon, Garmin etc etc

At CES the company showed the 2K x 2K microdisplay as well as its Solos smart glasses for cyclists.

Kopin is working with Goertek (a major supplier of VR headsets in China – Man. Ed.) which has invested 10% in Kopin for $25.4 million and the company is working with Lenovo. It has a joint venture with BOE and Yunnan Olightek (for more on this see Kopin at SID and AWE) The company has a fabless model not only for backplanes, but also for OLED deposition.

The 2K x 2K display shown at CES supports 120Hz (and Choi said that Kopic can design up to 3K x 3K resolution on the same architecture)

Kopin is working with 3M on ‘pancake’ optics

Kopin is working with 3M on ‘pancake’ optics to reduce focal length significantly and reduce the VR headset size. That’s a major concern for Kopin which wants to develop stylish glasses.

It’s hard to make a successful AR headset. It’s better to ‘do one thing well’ and so design for a specific application at this stage. It’s very hard to make a more general purpose device – for exampler, there is absolutely no point in putting in higher resolution than needed for the application that the user wants.

One of the applications for Kopin has been the helmet mounted displays for the F35 which has six sensors and which see through performance is essential. The helmet costs $40K and that has generated $100m of revenue over 10 years. The field of view is 30/40º – 17,000 cd/m² output needed to match to daylight.

Kopin is Going Solos

Solos is Kopin’s first consumer product. Cyclists already have a lot of sensors and are used to working with them, so the company saw that market as a good early one. The glasses were designed with the US Olympics cycling team and optimised for cycling. A cellphone does the processing so that the display weighs just 65gms. There is a pupil module in front of eye. The glasses are shipping now and getting a good response so the company plans to increase the volume. The glasses are selling on Indiegogo for $375 against a list price of $500.

kopin solosKopin is going to the consumer market with its Solos glasses for cyclists

Another AR system using the Kopin display is Scott Sight for fire fighters – a helmet integrated with the thermal imager to allow seeing in the dark and through fire as well as showing a temperature map of the environment. The system uses a small 428 x 240 display with 9fps as that is enough for that application.

Realwear’s HMT-1 product design is licensed from Kopin (Golden-I) and uses a Qualcomm processor and a 16mp camera to create a WVGA resolution headset with a hands-free UI

Head mounted computers using speech and gesture for input are very convenient. A key the the usefulness is the quality of the voice input and as we have reported before, Kopin has developed a voice extraction technology that can get clear voice signals even from very noisy conditions.

In summary, Kopin is in a good position to capture business in AR/VR, Choi said.

Analyst Comment

I have wanted a product like the Kopin Solos for a long time. However, the battery life is currently 6 hours and, occasionally, I do longer rides. That’s when I would most appreciate the GPS access etc. When it gets to 10 or 12 hours, I may sign up! (BR)