Nearly 20% of the global population has some degree of hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, and that number is climbing. One remedy is to “listen” with your eyes, which can be facilitated by augmented reality (AR) eyeglasses from Beijing LLVision Technology. The LEION Hey glasses transcribe and display spoken words across the lens, and they can even be used for translation. Embedding this technology in eyewear that is both durable and comfortable to wear is made possible — as we like to say around here — by plastic.
Tough yet lightweight material
The stems of the LEION Hey glasses are molded from Ultem 1000 polyetherimide (PEI) supplied by Sabic. A tough, lightweight, and non-halogenated flame-retardant material, Ultem resin enables thin-wall molding of the hollow stems, which contain both a lithium-ion battery and computer chip to enable rapid, multi-language translations. Ultem helped LLVision to minimize weight while providing the strength needed to integrate and protect the components.
At the outset, LLVision’s goal was to make the lightest AR glasses on the market, said CEO Wu Wei. The number of components that needed to be integrated, including an optical module, microphone, and computer chip, was a complicating factor. “After comparing and testing materials from more than 20 suppliers globally, we found Sabic’s Ultem resin to be the lightest, with additional advantages of strength, resilience, and inherent non-halogenated flame retardance. With the help of Ultem resin, we lowered the overall weight of our LEION Hey glasses to just 79 grams, or 2.8 ounces,” said Wei.
LLVision employs automatic speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence to create, stream, and display voice translations in milliseconds. The computer chip integrated in the stems of the glasses translates voice input into text data. The glasses connect wirelessly to a smartphone app for user authentication.
During LLVision’s material selection process, Ultem resin reportedly surpassed incumbent materials, such as amorphous polyamide (PA). Sabic said that its PEI material provides a balance of ductility and stiffness that enables thin-wall molding. Compared with PA, the PEI allowed up to a 30% weight reduction and provided more space for the embedded components. The specialty resin also provides better dimensional stability than PA for efficient assembly and delivers combined stiffness and strength that allow the stems to clamp securely to the wearer’s head, said Sabic. Its flame retardance enhances the safety of devices that incorporate electronic components, and the non-halogenated formulation avoids the use of chlorine and bromine, which are associated with adverse health and environmental effects, added Sabic.
Ultem 1000 resin is an unreinforced, general-purpose grade offering high heat resistance, high strength and modulus, and broad chemical resistance. It is rated for fire safety under the UL 94 V0, V2, and 5VA standards. Sabic supplies the material to LLVision in a custom gray color. In addition, Sabic has a broad portfolio of other materials suited for eyeglass frames and stems, depending on customers’ design needs.
Sabic said that it is now looking forward to working with LLVision on a next-gen version of the LEION Hey glasses using a certified renewable, bio-based grade of Ultem resin.