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Deutsche Telekom pairs up with Zeiss in smart glasses startup

(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Telekom AG has created a digital glasses startup with manufacturer Carl Zeiss AG, as Europe’s biggest telecoms company joins the race in developing usable augmented reality devices.

The startup, Tooz Technologies Inc., is developing glasses using optics invented by Zeiss, combined with Deutsche Telekom’s connectivity services -- in a bid to make spectacles that are lighter and use less energy.

“We need connectivity with a cloud that’s available everywhere if we want to have real-time applications,” said Deutsche Telekom’s Christian Stangier, responsible for connected devices. The companies plan to license the technology to producers of smart glasses.

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A visitor passes along a staircase walkway at the headquarters Deutsche Telekom AG as the T-Mobile logo sits on banners in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. Deutsche Telekom, Europe's biggest phone company, pledged to return more cash to shareholders over the next four years as its growing T-Mobile US Inc. business boosts profit. Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

It’s a business that’s become tough for even tech giants to crack. Intel Corp. has pared back some of its consumer product efforts after failing to make progress in the market for wearable technology. Itplans to sell a majority stake in its augmented reality business, which is intended to start offering smart glasses to consumers as soon as this year.

Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are both developing their own connected eyewear products, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google refocused its Google Glass devices on business customers after an aborted attempt to sell to consumers. The market for augmented and virtual reality hardware could be worth as much as $110 billion by 2025, with another $72 billion in software revenue, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates.

Deutsche Telekom and Zeiss say the glasses will be useful for private as well as business customers, citing use cases including surgeries, logistics, maintenance as well as fitness and personalized shopping. Tooz Technologies will be based in the U.S. as well as in Aalen, Germany.