Leica and Huawei seal long-term working relationship with joint R&D center


It appears that Huawei and Leica's collaborative efforts will continue past the former's recent P9 and P9 Plus smartphones. When the devices launched, there were some question marks over Leica's actual involvement aside from the branding that adorns the rear of each handset. But Huawei swiftly reiterated that the German optics firm's involvement went beyond the superifical. With rumors that upcoming Huawei handsets will also get the Leica treatment, the two firms have announced their intention to create a research and development center in order to build collaborative software and optical systems in the future. 

Named the Max Berek Innovation Lab after the guy who created Leica's first 35mm camera lens, the joint R&D effort will be homed at Leica's HQ in Wetzlar, Germany. Working in tandem, the firms hope to make large strides in the mobile camera market with respect to both hardware and software. Additionally, the two companies will utilize the lab to delve into the fledgling realms of AR and VR. Huawei has already turned out some neat-looking VR this year, while Richard Yu has also confirmed that VR-friendly 2K displays will be bundled into future smartphones.

In our review of the Huawei P9, it's fair to say we weren't blown away by the rear-facing camera's capabilities. It's not that it's terribly bad -- it's actually rather good. But given the prestige loaded with the Leica label, we did perhaps expect a humdinger that didn't quite materialize. Still, the partnership remains young, and now that Huawei and Leica have essentially got their own place together, here's hoping they can emulate the kind of innovation and success that Nokia achieved with German optics outfit Carl Zeiss.

‘Max Berek Innovation Lab’ will conduct R&D in the fields of new optical systems, computational imaging, virtual reality and augmented reality

HUAWEI and Leica Camera AG today announced that they have expanded their strategic collaboration with the establishment of a jointly operated research and innovation centre, the Max Berek Innovation Lab. The launch comes seven months after the public announcement of their long-term technology partnership in the field of optical engineering, and five months after the launch of the globally successful, multi-award winning HUAWEI P9 and P9 Plus smartphones.

The new lab, located at Leica’s global HQ in Wetzlar, Germany, will drive further development of optical systems and software-based technologies to improve imaging quality in a wide range of photographic and mobile device applications. Additional outcomes will include the creation of computational imaging, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions. In addition to R&D resources from both companies, HUAWEI and Leica plan to collaborate with German and international universities and research institutions.

The Lab’s establishment is the result of the vision and support of Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, majority shareholder and chairman of the advisory board of Leica Camera AG, and Ren Zhengfei, founder of HUAWEI.

“With the founding of the Max Berek Innovation Lab, HUAWEI and Leica Camera AG are expanding the scope of their successful strategic relationship and are laying the foundation for close collaboration in research and development of ground-breaking technologies in the imaging segment,” emphasised Dr. Andreas Kaufmann.

“In the future, over 90 per cent of the data traffic will be images and videos,” said Ren Zhengfei, founder of HUAWEI. “The Max Berek Innovation Lab provides the capacity to establish an even closer partnership with Leica, leading to continuous improvements in image and video quality. As a result, we will deliver the most advanced innovations in the smartphone camera market and bring greater value to consumers.”

“HUAWEI and Leica share not only enormous innovation power and years of research experience, but also their dedication to providing the highest quality standards. The Max Berek Innovation Lab offers us a historic opportunity to unite the resources and extensive expertise of both companies to pioneer game-changing technologies,” confirmed Markus Limberger, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Leica Camera AG and director of the Max Berek Innovation Lab.

The R&D centre is named in memory of Max Berek (1886 - 1949), the German pioneer of microscopy and creator of the first Leica lenses. Berek was also responsible for the optical design of more than 20 lenses for the legendary 35mm camera, invented and built by Oskar Barnack. Thanks to the exceptional imaging performance and perfect harmonisation of the lenses, coupled with Barnack’s ingenious construction, Leica achieved worldwide success in 35mm photography.

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