Xiaomi and Leica unveiled plans to establish an optical institute in Beijing covering 2,644 square metres and comprising three laboratories to develop camera hardware, imaging, and objective and subjective image quality evaluation.

The Chinese device maker stated the pair would invest significant resources and employ a joint team of more than 200 experts to design ultra-precision optical lenses in a compact form factor; deliver ideal performance in computational photography; set high optical standards for lenses; and research and employ cutting-edge optoelectronic technology.

Xiaomi said the institute aims to “unite an array of integrated interdisciplinary sciences”, including digital imaging and AI technologies.

Leica Camera CEO Matthias Harsch stated the institute will combined top-tier teams from both sides of the field of optics. “Together, we are dedicated to spearheading a new era in mobile imaging optics, pushing the boundaries of mobile imaging and forging an advanced mobile imaging optical system tailored to our contemporary era.” 

Leading optical designer Peter Karbe, an optical designer behind some of Leica’s top series, will provide related expertise and Zeng Xuezong, president of Xiaomi’s phone unit, was appointed director.

Yi Yan, head of Xiaomi’s software technical team, and Wang Xuanran, GM of Xiaomi’s camera department, were appointed deputy directors.