News: Deutsche Telekom & Zeiss Launch Smartglasses Startup Tooz

Deutsche Telekom & Zeiss Launch Smartglasses Startup Tooz

A new smartglasses powerhouse is rising in Europe, led by two of the region's leading brands, optical systems company Zeiss (also known as Carl Zeiss) and telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom.

Together, the two companies will each own 50% of a new company called Tooz Technologies Inc., which will be based in the US and Germany and focused on the development of an "optical system that enables a small and wearable design for data glasses."

The first hints at the collaboration emerged during last year's Mobile World Congress when Zeiss revealed that it was working with the wireless firm on creating a product that could display info, apps, and images "in front of the eye." Predictably, where Deutsche Telekom comes in is in the area of how the device's data will be handled, namely, in the cloud and over wireless 5G networks.

"The goal is a pair of smartglasses acceptable to industry and consumers that is unobtrusive, suitable for day-to-day applications and offers the user tangible added value," said Dr. Ulrich Simon, head of the corporate research and technology at Zeiss, in a statement.

"This could be in logistics, but also during surgery: the doctor will need numerous, individually selected pieces of information while still concentrating completely on what is happening in the operating room. In retail, smartglasses will enable personalized shopping experiences as well as day-to-day applications. For example, navigation functions and social media will be available without needing to reach for your smartphone."

Along with the announcement, Zeiss released an image (see below) of a person wearing a pair of seemingly normal glasses. However, at present, the image is described as being a "goal" of the partnership, rather than confirming the look and size of an actual smartglasses product from Tooz.

Image via Zeiss

And this week, Deutsche Telekom, in collaboration with Lufthansa, released a series of prototype ideas created by developer teams, one of which includes a pair of Zeiss prototype smartglasses (see top of page), which appear similar to the prototype smartglasses the company showed off back in 2016.

"The diverse and economically promising development projects have confirmed for us that there will be a market for smartglasses as well as for business and end consumers," said Christian Stangier, senior vice president of connected devices at Deutsche Telekom, in a statement. "These scenarios range from logistics and maintenance to fitness and health applications."

However, rather than going direct to consumers, Tooz is being framed as a venture that will license its wireless, cloud-connected smartglasses solutions to other companies looking to enter the wearable technology market.

Those paying close attention to the developing smartglasses space will remember that rumors surfaced last year that Zeiss, which had a booth in the augmented reality section of the 2017 CES conference, might be working with Apple on a pair of smartglasses. Although the Tooz venture doesn't mention Apple, that doesn't mean the iPhone maker won't somehow crop up as a Tooz partner or licensee of some sort sometime in the future. Specifically, the Tooz focus on wireless connectivity seems right up Apple's alley in terms of extending the reach of iOS and the iPhone in Europe.

"If we want to experience real-time applications in the future, then we need cloud connectivity that is available everywhere. This is the only way to guarantee a high-speed reaction time," said Stangier. "We are convinced that smartglasses will play a major role in the years ahead."

Cover image via Deutsche Telekom & Lufthansa

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