Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fourth generation optics are here

Someone once said 'Science is like a horse, not a cow; feed it, don't worship it'. I read this to say that even if you have very good technology, don't rest on your laurels but rather keep investing to make it great.

For several years now, My company has been building virtual reality goggles based on a unique optical tiling technology which allows creating goggles that are lighter, have wider field of view and higher definition.

At the core, the problem to be solved and the tiling solution are both simple to explain. Users want panoramic field of view because once the peripheral vision is engaged when wearing goggles, the sense of realism, immersion, "being there" is greatly enhanced. At the same time, users want high resolution and high pixel density so that they can get lifelike images. With today's micro displays, it is difficult to do both. If you magnify a micro-display just a little bit, you get good pixel density but narrow field of view, or "tunnel vision". If you magnify a display too much, you can get good field of view but low pixel density. High magnification also brings concerns about total weight, image distortion, clarity at the edge of the image, and all kinds of things that goggle manufacturers worry about.

If you could somehow make micro-displays that physically overlap, you would be in good shape because you can create a really high-definition micro display from many lower-resolution ones. However, making displays physically overlap is practically impossible. Our technology makes the displays optically overlap, essentially by carefully putting small magnifying glasses in front of each display. If they are properly positioned and aligned, the result is a nearly seamless image of both high resolution and panoramic field of view.

After investing quite a lot, we have now made 'nearly seamless' even better. Our fourth-generation optics are even better now. We've improved image clarity at the edges. We've improved what's called the 'eye box' (larger eye box means that you can still see a good image even if your eyes are not at the optimal position relative to the goggles). We've even changed the material from which we make the lenses.

So, we are excited about these fourth-generation optics and people that have tried it on are also excited. If you are in the market for a professional set of goggles, make sure you stop by to see our progress.


mhack said...

"The eye, unfortunately for HMDs, is aware of the optical distance between the viewer and the plane of focus. With HMDs, even with all of the optical tricks they pull, what you are seeing is very close to your eye relative to what other cues to depth (notably stereopsis) would suggest."

Any progress on this issue?

VRGuy said...

The eye and brain estimate the distance to the object being seen in a variety of ways, including the how much the cornea is flexed. Optical systems, such as HMDs, create a perceived focal plane that is much farther than where the actual lens is. In fact, many HMD vendors create images that appear to come from an infinitely-far distance. Some, like Sensics, prefer setting the perceived image plane at approximately 1 meter so that there is no distance disconnect between what the brain senses and what the eye is telling it it sees. Depth perception is created by displaying different left and right images with the correct perspective, taking into account the distance of the virtual object being displayed as well as the distance between the eyes.