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AR startup Meta sues former head of optics over trade secrets theft



A top augmented reality startup is suing its former head of optics for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets in the creation of his own AR company.

Meta, which builds augmented reality hardware and software, filed suit earlier this week in a Northern California court against former employee Zhangyi Zhong, his company Dreamworld USA and 20 unnamed defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that Zhong “shamelessly leveraged” his time at the company to “misappropriate confidential and trade secret information relating to Meta’s technologies, supply chain, manufacturing methods and relationships, as well as business, investment and market strategies,” in the creation of his augmented reality startup, Dreamworld.

Zhong joined Meta in March of 2015 as a Senior Optical Engineer before his “abrupt resignation” in July of 2016.

Meta has raised over $73 million in funding for its AR systems from top investors including Y-Combinator, Tencent, Comcast Ventures and Lenovo.

The San Mateo-based company has built a tethered augmented reality device, the “Meta 2,” which boasts a much wider field-of-view (FoV) than competitors, though its optics rely on less complex (and less expensive) technologies than the waveguide displays used by products like Microsoft’s HoloLens.

While Meta 2 has a FoV measured at around 90-degrees, Zhong claims that his company’s DreamGlass device will have a FoV of 100-degrees. Dreamworld plans to launch pre-orders for the device soon at a price of $350. The Meta 2 development kit currently costs $949.