Finally, VR For Four Eyes

In the next few years, VR headsets will be everywhere, and everyone will slowly recede into their own little reality that is presented on high-resolution displays right in front of their eyes. One specific group will be left out: eyeglass wearers. VR just doesn’t work with eyeglasses, and a few people in Germany are fixing this problem. They’re creating custom prescription lenses for Google Cardboard, giving anyone with glasses the opportunity to look just a little more hipster.

The folks behind this Indiegogo already run a specialty optics shop in Germany. They have the tools to make custom lenses for spectacles, and they’re the first company so far that has identified a problem with the current crop of VR headsets and has created a solution. The campaign is for a set of lenses that can be attached to Google Cardboard with double stick tape. There are limitations on how strong of a prescription they can make, but it should work for most four eyes.

It should be noted this Indiegogo isn’t the only way to get custom lenses for a VR headset. If you have your prescription, there are a few places to buy glasses online for $30 or so. Do that, remove the lenses from the frame, and affix them to Cardboard.

30 thoughts on “Finally, VR For Four Eyes

        1. I’m shortsighted too. My eye numbers are about 7. I built the Google cardboard VR with no lens! I didn’t put its required lenses in it. So, I only need to remove my glasses and put on the cardboard VR. That’s because my own eyes are acting as the required lenses because of my shortsightedness. So: shortsightedness+no glasses+no VR lenses=a normal person+VR lenses.

  1. I was wondering if it would be mathematically possible to distort the images so that the two eyes individually (possible different distortion matrix for each eye) would see clear images without glasses.

    1. A bit like the digital contact lenses that they used on the Hubble telescope but in reverse.
      From wikipedia – “The error was well characterized and stable, enabling astronomers to partially compensate for the defective mirror by using sophisticated image processing techniques such as deconvolution”

        1. I believe that would require pixels in the display that can not only control how much light they produce, but what direction it is sent. As well as eye tracking (separate from head tracking) so it can compute what angles light must enter the eye to converge to an in-focus image. Basically, this would be a *true* 3D display. Theoretically possible, I understand there are a few prototype 3D TVs that do this.

          But lenses are so much easier and cheaper. In fact, there’s one or more lenses already in every VR headset to give the illusion that the screen is further away than it really is; because few people can focus on something an inch or two away from their eyes, or can comfortably do so for long periods.

          What would be ideal is if the headset manufacturers provided interchangeable lenses, so that you can *exchange* them rather than *add* another to the light path. For myopic folks like me, that would actually mean less correction (and distortion!), since it requires less light bending to make a screen that’s really 2″ away look only 12″ away, rather than 120″ (or whatever the default focal length might be). Though I bet the opthalmic industry would put up a stink, and claim the headset makers are producing “corrective eyewear” without proper licensing and prescriptions.

          1. So I can not use the eyes own lens to focus the light, by just moving/adjusting the source for each (and every) pixel. Basically reducing the intensity and changing each pixel from a point into a ring. A mathematically calculated blur that would be focused by the persons own eye looking at the image.

            I can see your point about tracking the eye though.

          2. Nope, afraid not. It’s much like taking an out-of-focus picture and viewing it on a screen or piece of paper – you can’t bring it back into focus.

          3. Only if you know what the image was to begin with. If part of the image on the display is purposely blurry (due to being far in the background of a focused object up close for example) then you can only extrapolate so much from the blurry part of the image. Interpolation can’t get back pixels that aren’t there.

          4. “that can not only control how much light they produce, but what direction it is sent.”

            Probably a few years away, but that seems to be what Google is working on with their MagicLeap AR tech.

          5. @[Truth]: That’s a pretty impressive output from deconvolution algorithm you linked. It’s not normally possible to fully recover a blurry image, unless you can give the algorithm a lot of extra info (like the Hubble example way up in the comments), or the algorithm can make some guesses for you. I think the latter is being used in your example. You can see where one of these guesses breaks down – zoom in on the right side of Grandpa’s scalp where it meets his hair. See the ripples?

            If you haven’t seen the Lytro camera, check out some of the interactive images it produces. You can dynamically refocus on any part of the image, a near-perfect deconvolution. It can do that because the camera simultaneously captures the intensity *and* direction of light. If you also had a screen that can reproduce intensity and direction, and viewed a Lytro image, it would give a perfect illusion of depth; and you could refocus anywhere in the image with just your eye, rather than by setting a control.

    2. Using today’s technology it is impossible. You would need to compensate for distortion in the phase and amplitude of the light arriving to your eyes, one way to do that is with a spatial light modulator. SLM’s aren’t anywhere near the required spatial resolution to compensate an image onto your retina.

  2. ” If you have your prescription, there are a few places to buy glasses online for $30 or so. Do that, remove the lenses from the frame, and affix them to Cardboard.”

    That’s not how it works. Eyeglasses have a specific focal length, and need to be a specific distance from the eyes to be in focus. While what you’re suggesting is possible with some modification, simply “affixing them” will not work.

    1. With a -5.25 diopter prescription, I can press the lenses of my glasses right up against my eyelids, or hold them up to 3″ away, and still focus. I don’t think the change in focal length from affixing prescription lenses in a headset, where they’re going to be at a distance similar to where they were in glasses frames anyway, is going to make that much of a difference.

      1. You’re not taking into consideration a few important things. Like magnification (diopter) is distance to object over distance to eyes. Try looking at something close to your eyes when you move your glasses back and forth. In shorter focal distances, the ratio is much more noticeable. Also, things like axis and lens material play a non-trivial part. Look at recent developments in high-index polycarbonates and aspherical component lenses… more here:

        1. Sure, while looking at a fixed object (my screen) and moving my glasses back and forth, I can feel my eyes refocusing – so there’s no doubt the focal distance is changing. For glasses, you to be able to focus on objects at the widest possible *range* of distances, so the lens and distance to eyes is chosen to work optimally together. But for a VR headset, it’s more like looking at my screen – only focusing at *one* distance. I can move my lenses 1″ closer to my eyes, or 2-3″ further away, and still easily focus on it.

  3. People have been ordering there own prescription lens’s for the Oculus Rift for years now, how is this a thing? you can get them for $15 from Zenni Optical or for a little more your local optometrist, the Rift forum has many threads on it.

  4. A small screen filled with tiny pinholes and placed across the two eye openings on a VR
    headset should correct for just about any eyeglass prescription. You would however need to
    boost the brightness of the VR headset. This item would be so inexpensive that it could be included
    with the VR headsets when sold.

    Pinhole glasses were the first type of glasses ever created and used… they allowed people to read
    in bright daylight and were generally made of very thin wood. I used to have a pair of solid aluminum
    glasses with pinhole screens (I lost them). They worked as sunglasses and I could read a book while relaxing at the beach
    without needing my reading glasses.

  5. You know you’re a nerd when the first thing that comes to mind upon reading “four eyes” is the order of the blackened denarius instead of eyeglasses. ;)

    My vision problem is my right eye takes a -5.00 contact lens while my left takes a -3.25. I also have a mild astigmatism.
    Close one eye and look at something, now open that eye while closing the other. Notice how what you see shifts left and right. Well, for me it also shifts up and down *and* rotates a bit. Then there’s the very slight blue colorblindness in my right eye. Just looking through my right eye certain color ranges look a bit more red than they do with my left. One of the colors in that range (which also seems to be hard for the left one to see) is what Microsoft used for the “highlight” in Windows Vista. Though made *slightly* darker in Windows 7 it’s still hard for me to see. *Extremely* annoying that MS made it impossible to alter the colors in the default Aero Glass theme without doing the uxtheme hack and changing the entire theme. (Apparently MS only tested the new theme using people with absolutely perfect vision, or the “artistes” who crafted it just ignored all complaints.)

    I got contact lenses at age 17 (27 years ago) and ditched the glasses for good because with my wonky eyes it’s flat out impossible to fit corrective glasses that do not give me terrible headaches. The optometrist who fitted my first contacts said the strain was because my eyes had to try and turn different amounts due to the wide difference in correction. My right eye at 17 was -4.00 and the left was (IIRC) -2.75.

    I need to get a new eye exam and prescription. Dunno if it’s just that the last left lens I have is old or if it’s advancing presbyopia but with the contact lens my arms aren’t long enough to read with my left eye and distance stuff is a bit fuzzy. Right one is still good to go at -5.00, near and far. Can’t do the trick anymore of pushing that lens off to the side and focusing down to an inch or less, which came in handy for reading tiny print on microchips. I had a leftover -4.75 I tried yesterday in my left and with concentration I could make it focus on things across a room but up close was hopeless. Probably needs to go up to a -3.5 or -3.75, perhaps a -4.0. Would not be surprised if it’s even worse.

    Most things that refract the light entering my eyes eventually gives me a headache, starts with a tension I feel in the back of my head. I have a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses I found in a wrecked car at a junkyard which are great, can wear them all day, but most safety glasses or goggles will have me feeling like a spike is slowly being pressed into the back of my head.

    Soooo, I’d bet that any Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift or similar VR headgear would have me yanking it off in a couple of minutes.

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