Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New 3-D display takes the eye fatigue out of virtual reality

22.06.2017

Innovative technology mimics the depth cues our eyes are accustomed to in the real-world

There is a great deal of excitement around virtual reality (VR) headsets that display a computer-simulated world and augmented reality (AR) glasses that overlay computer-generated elements with the real world.


The new display creates a 3-D image using optical mapping. An OLED screen is divided into four subpanels that each create a 2-D picture. The spatial multiplexing unit (SMU) shifted each of these images to different depths while aligning the centers of all the images with the viewing axis. Through the eyepiece, each image appears to be at different depth.

Credit: Liang Gao, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Although AR and VR devices are starting to hit the market, they remain mostly a novelty because eye fatigue makes them uncomfortable to use for extended periods. A new type of 3D display could solve this long-standing problem by greatly improving the viewing comfort of these wearable devices.

"We want to replace currently used AR and VR optical display modules with our 3D display to get rid of eye fatigue problems," said Liang Gao, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Our method could lead to a new generation of 3D displays that can be integrated into any type of AR glasses or VR headset."

Gao and Wei Cui report their new optical mapping 3D display in The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters. Measuring only 1 x 2 inches, the new display module increases viewing comfort by producing depth cues that are perceived in much the same way we see depth in the real-world.

Overcoming eye fatigue

Today's VR headsets and AR glasses present two 2D images in a way that cues the viewer's brain to combine the images into the impression of a 3D scene. This type of stereoscopic display causes what is known as a vergence-accommodation conflict, which over time makes it harder for the viewer to fuse the images and causes discomfort and eye fatigue.

The new display presents actual 3D images using an approach called optical mapping. This is done by dividing a digital display into subpanels that each create a 2D picture. The subpanel images are shifted to different depths while the centers of all the images are aligned with one another. This makes it appear as if each image is at a different depth when a user looks through the eyepiece. The researchers also created an algorithm that blends the images, so that the depths appear continuous, creating a unified 3D image.

The key component for the new system is a spatial multiplexing unit that axially shifts sub-panel images to the designated depths while laterally shifting the centers of sub-panel images to the viewing axis. In the current setup, the spatial multiplexing unit is made of spatial light modulators that modify the light according to a specific algorithm developed by the researchers.

Although the approach would work with any modern display technology, the researchers used an organic light emitting diode (OLEDs) display, one of the newest display technologies to be used on commercial televisions and mobile devices. The extremely high resolution available from the OLED display ensured that each subpanel contained enough pixels to create a clear image.

"People have tried methods similar to ours to create multiple plane depths, but instead of creating multiple depth images simultaneously, they changed the images very quickly," said Gao. "However, this approach comes with a trade-off in dynamic range, or level of contrast, because the duration each image is shown is very short."

Creating depth cues

The researchers tested the device by using it to display a complex scene of parked cars and placing a camera in front of the eyepiece to record what the human eye would see. They showed that the camera could focus on cars that appeared far away while the foreground remained out of focus. Similarly, the camera could be focused on the closer cars while the background appeared blurry. This test confirmed that the new display produces focal cues that create depth perception much like the way humans perceive depth in a scene. This demonstration was performed in black and white, but the researchers say the technique could also be used to produce color images, although with a reduced lateral resolution.

The researchers are now working to further reduce the system's size, weight and power consumption. "In the future, we want to replace the spatial light modulators with another optical component such as a volume holography grating," said Gao. "In addition to being smaller, these gratings don't actively consume power, which would make our device even more compact and increase its suitability for VR headsets or AR glasses."

Although the researchers don't currently have any commercial partners, they are in discussions with companies to see if the new display could be integrated into future AR and VR products.

###

Paper: W. Cui, L. Gao, "Optical Mapping Near-eye Three-dimensional Display with Correct Focus Cues," Opt. Lett., Volume 42, Issue 13, 2475-2478 (2017). DOI: 10.1364/OL.42.002475.

About Optics Letters

Optics Letters offers rapid dissemination of new results in all areas of optics with short, original, peer-reviewed communications. Optics Letters covers the latest research in optical science, including optical measurements, optical components and devices, atmospheric optics, biomedical optics, Fourier optics, integrated optics, optical processing, optoelectronics, lasers, nonlinear optics, optical storage and holography, optical coherence, polarization, quantum electronics, ultrafast optical phenomena, photonic crystals and fiber optics.

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org.

Media Contacts:

Rebecca B. Andersen
The Optical Society
randersen@osa.org
+1 202.416.1443

Joshua Miller
The Optical Society
jmiller@osa.org
+1 202.416.1435

http://www.osa.org 

Joshua Miller | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Snake-inspired robot uses kirigami to move
22.02.2018 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression
22.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>