Leica's Dr. Andreas Kaufmann with Ren Zhengfei, founder of HUAWEI

Camera manufacturer Leica and telecom brand Huawei have announced they are to create a research and development center so they can jointly work on optical and software systems. The Max Berek Innovation Lab will be established at Leica’s headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, and will build on the relationship the two companies formed while producing the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus smartphones. There was some doubt about the level of Leica’s involvement in the P9 project, but Huawei clarified the extent of the German brand’s contribution in a statement in April.

This next step of the partnership intends to push forward lens and software technology, according to Leica, with the aim of improving the image quality it’s possible to obtain from the tiny cameras that phones and other mobile devices use. The pair also state that they will work together on solutions for virtual reality, augmented reality and computer-based imaging, and that they will involve universities and other research establishments in their projects.

The new research lab is named after optical engineer Max Berek, the man who developed the first lens for the Leica 35mm camera system. He joined Leitz the year after Oskar Barnack came to the company from Zeiss, and designed the 50mm F3.5 lens that was coupled with the Leica 1. The lens was named Elmax – E rnst L eitz Max and the 50mm focal length became the standard for the 135 format. The Elmax developed into the Elmar, a lens that Leica still uses today.

For more information see the Leica and Huawei websites.

Press release

Leica Camera and HUAWEI Establish New R&D Centre

‘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.