Svelte VR Headsets Coming?

According to Standford and NVidia researchers, VR adoption is slowed by the bulky headsets required. They want to offer a slim solution. A SIGGRAPH paper earlier this year lays out their plan or you can watch the video below. There’s also a second video, also below, covers some technical questions and answers.

The traditional headset has a display right in front of your eyes. Special lenses can make them skinnier, but this new method provides displays that can be a few millimeters thick. The technology seems pretty intense and appears to create a hologram at different apparent places using a laser, a geometric phase lens, and a pupil-replicating waveguide.

The original method uses a beam splitter to divert light to the eye, but the novel part of this is the use of a waveguide instead of the beamsplitter. Of course, there are drawbacks, many of which you can mitigate using techniques discussed in the paper and video.

Of course, these are a long way from practical, although there are some small glasses that have giant ribbon cables that would get you some raised eyebrows. In fact, they look like comically raised eyebrows themselves.

If you want to build it yourself, you might be better off with something more traditional. We will admit, though, to being fascinated with the whole idea of holograms.

20 thoughts on “Svelte VR Headsets Coming?

      1. AR is when computer-generated graphics translate and rotate in sync with real-word objects, to create the illusion of objects that are fixed in the real world. Reality augmented by CG objects that appear to be part of reality.

        HUD is static text and graphics at fixed positions on the display. Think of cars that display dashboard information in the windshield. A display that you can view with your head up, not looking down.

        (And yes, there are products that span both domains, and with enough creativity you could (ab)use a HUD system to get crude AR.)

        I’d love to have goggles that show speed, plus temperature and/or battery, for snowboarding and electric skateboarding. It seems like a much less technically challenging problem to solve, and probably more useful to more people, which might be what [TCFKAR] was getting at.

        1. Considering how long ago virtual boy was I’d be willing to bet its just aging being at fault…

          Especially as the virtual boy itself works much the same as modern VR that now has hundreds of thousands of hours (if not into the low billions by now) of use – including by medical professionals with no obvious ill effects.

          Lots of folks end up needing corrective vision in their teenage years even if they were fine as children, and by the time you get into your 4th or 5th decade if you don’t need help for some visual tasks you are probably lucky…

      1. There are lots of times It would be really useful.

        For instance trying to use a multimeter can’t read the display and poke all the probes where they need to go at the same time easily, but it gets so much easier if the display is always in your eyeline.

        Helpful to have the shopping list available with both hands free.

        Could be great for Biker and cyclist, a rear view from the helmet cam to glance at and on unfamilar routes a gps display.. All in the helmet/glasses so it wont’ get distorted when covered in rain etc.

        Then there is the potential to have a high resolution and large screen with you – So when I want to work on my project having just been inspired by the offhand utterance, debate over a pub lunch etc I don’t need to write the short note that is all phones and notebooks are good for to myself and hope its enough to hold on to the idea – the screen is good enough I can see and interact with the entire thing almost like I was sat at my desk…

        So many uses for a good AR hud, which is not to say I think its the right thing for everyone, or something we should expect to have in daily life at all times…

  1. There’s the small issue that a holographic display requires holographic image computation, which currently takes a few orders of magnitude more time than just computing a regular 2D image of a 3D scene.

    1. this does not display a holographic image. This does not require the sort of computations you imply. Think of the holograms in this case as a holographic replacement for an optic path. The hologram is just being used to pipe the image from display to eye with an expansion along the way. Hence Holographic WAVEGUIDE

      1. A hologram is basically a special type of light field. A regular image is composed of pixels, which emit the same light in all directions. On the other hand, a light field is like an image that looks different from every angle that you view it from. In essence, each pixel now becomes an entire image, shining different light in different directions.

        For holograms, you need to compute the interference pattern from all the light from the scene as it hits each pixel. In theory, anyway. In practice, I suppose they find ways to reduce the amount of light that needs to be considered.

  2. The really neat part is the dynamically steerable eyebox, that’s been the Achilles’ heel of near-eye microdisplay setups (waveguide or conventional) for decades. The eyebox still needs to be large enough to cover the pupil, but now at least it does not need to cover the entire volume within which the pupil can swivel to.

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