Researchers from Stanford University and Nvidia have teamed up to help develop VR glasses that look a lot more like regular spectacles. Okay, they are rather silly looking due to the ribbons extended from either eye, but they’re much, much flatter and compact than your usual goggle-like virtual reality headsets today.
“A major barrier to widespread adoption of VR technology, however, is the bulky form factor of existing VR displays and the discomfort associated with that,” the research paper published at Siggraph 2022 (opens in new tab) says.
These aptly named “Holographic Glasses” can deliver a full-colour 3D holographic image using optics that are only 2.5mm thick. Compared to the traditional way a VR headset works, in which a lens magnifies a smaller display some distance away from it, shrinking all the prerequisite parts down to such a small size is quite the spectacular step forward for VR.
The Holographic Glasses prototype uses pancake lenses, which is a concept that has been thrown around a couple of times in the past few years. These pancake lenses not only allow for a much smaller profile but reportedly they have a few other benefits, too: the resolution they can offer is said to be unlimited, meaning you can crank up the resolution for VR headsets, and they offer a much wider field of view at up to 200°.
The research paper lists the glasses as such: “a coherent light source that is coupled into a pupil-replicating waveguide, which provides the illumination for a phase-only SLM that is mounted on the waveguide in front of the user’s eye. This SLM creates a small image behind the device, which is magnified by a thin geometric phase (GP) lens.”
the final result is a very small VR device that could be game-changing if made a reality outside of the lab. It also only weighs 60g, which is notably far lighter than even the Meta Quest 2 (opens in new tab), which rolls in at 503g.
You can read up on the whole project in the recently published research paper titled “Holographic Glasses for Virtual Reality (opens in new tab)” by Jonghyun Kim, Manu Gopakumar, Suyeon Choi, Yifan Peng, Ward Lopes, and Gordon Wetzstein.
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