Facebook reveals holographic optics for skinny and light VR headsets

Today’s practical existence headsets are zodiacally vast — closer to goggles than glasses, and even then, incomparable and heavier than complicated ski goggles. While Facebook has shown prototypes of bigger and some-more formidable Oculus VR headsets, it’s done no secret of a seductiveness in formulating lightweight models that can be worn all day. Now it’s divulgence a holographic visual pattern designed for thinner, lighter VR headsets, that it expects will seem in destiny “high opening AR/VR” devices.

Discussed in a Siggraph 2020 investigate paper patrician “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” a complement uses prosaic films to emanate a VR arrangement usually somewhat thicker than today’s standard smartphones. Facebook’s “pancake optics” pattern combines several skinny layers of holographic film with a laser projection complement and directional backlights, delivering possibly prosaic imagery or volumetric holograms depending on a sophistication of a design. Depending on how many color, lighting, and alignment-enhancing components a antecedent contains, a density of a visual complement can operation from 11mm to usually underneath 9mm.

In wearable antecedent form, any eye arrangement facilities a fortitude of roughly 1,200 by 1,600 pixels — allied to stream VR goggles — with a margin of perspective that’s possibly a 93-degree round or a 92-by-69-degree rectangle. That’s roughly allied to a arrangement specs of a 571-gram Oculus Quest, yet in a glasses-like form cause that weighs reduction than 10 grams in total, despite with usually a singular eye arrangement in a prototypes. The researchers note they could cut collection and change materials to grasp a 6.6 gram weight homogeneous to cosmetic flier sunglasses, yet would concede opening by doing so.

There’s one vital caveat: The record isn’t prepared for near-term deployment. As of now, Facebook’s researchers have 3 prototypes, including a full-color arrangement that’s mounted on a exam dais rather than wearable, and dual wearable prototypes that broach green-on-black imagery in possibly relocating or immobile form. All of a prototypes use laser LCD enlightenment systems, and a three-laser full tone antecedent exhibits shimmering speckles, requiring a despeckler that’s excellent for immobile images yet leaves tone sound when displaying energetic content. In further to building a some-more performant tradition despeckler, a researchers contend that they could broach a wearable full-color antecedent by adding possibly a holographic backlight or lens, yet need some-more engineering work to get to that point.

Above: External captures of a single-color wearable and full-color bench-mounted displays don’t do full probity to their tone gamuts, yet yield a clarity of their resolution.

As many of today’s VR headsets use large, low lens systems, deputy with a near-eye holographic complement could cut their volume by 75% or more, yet other components such as processors and storage would still need to be inside or wirelessly offloaded to a apart housing. Facebook’s glasses-styled prototypes have many of their components mounted outward of a displays, that means their real-world doing would be closer to Nreal’s Light AR glasses than Oculus Quest, depending on a smartphone or other device to emanate their visuals. Scheduled for recover this year, Light weighs 88 grams and has a 52-degree margin of view.

At this stage, a researchers trust that a complement comes closer to delivering a viable lightweight VR fortitude than Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap 1, that are singular by roughly 40-degree fields of view, distant reduction than is required to fill a eye with digital content. Over time, Facebook’s idea is to broach both fortitude relating normal tellurian prophesy and a vast observation eye box so that eyes can stagger to see calm rather than usually staring brazen during a tiny window. The headset could be used for all from bureau capability — displaying a practical mechanism and other collection — to Facebook-powered amicable interactions and games.

Facebook isn’t a usually association operative on holographic visual systems for churned existence applications. Apple-acquired company Akonia was operative on solutions years ago, and has sought to obvious a retinal hologram projector system among other XR arrangement technologies. U.K. startup WaveOptics is another player, backed by China’s Goertek, while Samsung and Sony have corroborated a thin film holographic waveguide arrangement from DigiLens. As an alternative, Germany’s Fraunhofer has grown microdisplays that are most smaller than normal VR screens and can be brought closer to a user’s eyes, shortening a visual system’s volume by 75% and weight by 50%.

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