Tech companies like Google and Microsoft have been working on augmented reality (AR) wearables that can superimpose images over your field of view, blurring the line between the real and virtual. Unfortunately for those looking to experiment with this technology, the devices released so far have been prohibitively expensive.
While they might not be able to compete with the latest Microsoft HoloLens, these laser AR classes from [Joel] promise to be far cheaper and much more approachable for hackers. By bouncing a low-power laser off of a piezo-actuated mirror, the hope is that the glasses will be able to project simple vector graphics onto a piece of reflective film usually used for aftermarket automotive heads-up displays (HUDs).
[Joel] has put together a prototype of what the mirror system might look like, but says driving the high-voltage piezo actuators poses some unique challenges. The tentative plan is to generate the vector data with a smartphone application, send it to an ESP32 microcontroller within the glasses, and then push the resulting analog signals through a 100 V DC-DC boost converter to get the mirror moving.
We’ve seen the ESP32 drive a laser galvanometer to play a game of Asteroids, but recreating such a setup in a small enough package to fit onto a pair of glasses would certainly be an impressive accomplishment. Early tests look promising, but clearly [Joel] has quite a bit of work ahead of him. As a finalist for the Rethink Displays challenge of the 2021 Hackaday Prize, we’re looking forward to seeing the project develop over the coming months.