New AR Head-Mounted Display Offers Exceptional Viewing Experience

Cambridge engineers have built up a new augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) that delivers a realistic 3-D viewing environment, without the normally associated symptoms of nausea or eyestrain.

The gadget has an enlarged eye-box that is adaptable and an increased field of view on 36º that is designed for a comfortable viewing experience. It displays images on the retina using pixel beam scanning which guarantees the image remains in focus regardless of the distance the client is fixating on. Details are reported in the scientific journal Research.

Developed by researchers at the Center for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) in collaboration with Huawei European Research Center, in Munich, the HMD uses partially reflective beam splitters to form an additional “exit pupil” (a virtual opening through which light travels). This, together with narrow pixel beams that travel parallel to one another, and which don’t scatter in different ways, produces a high-quality image that remains unaffected by changes in eye focus.

The consequences of a subjective conducted study with over 50 participants aged somewhere in the range of 16 and 60 showed the 3-D effect to be “exceptionally persuading” for objects from 20 cm to 10 m; the images and videos to be of “vivid color” and high contrast with no perceptible pixels; and crucially, none of the participants detailed any eye fatigue or nausea, even after prolonged periods of usage over a couple of hours or even throughout the day.

The HMD is of high brightness and suited to a wide range of indoor and outdoor uses. Further research is advancing on exploring its potential use in areas of various applications, for example, training, CAD development, hospitality, data manipulation, outdoor sport, defense applications and construction, as well as scaling down the current head-mounted model to a glasses-based format.

Professor Daping Chu, director of the Center for Photonic Devices and Sensors and Director of CAPE, who led the study, stated: “Our research offers up a wearable AR experience that rivals the market pioneers on account of its comfortable 3-D viewing which makes no nausea or eyestrain to the user. It can high-quality clear images directly on the retina, regardless of whether the user is wearing glasses. This can help the user with seeing displayed real world and virtual objects clearly in a vivid situation, regardless of the quality of the user’s vision.”

 

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