philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality

Abstract: We present a class of display designs combining holographic optics, directional backlighting, laser illumination, and polarization-based optical folding to achieve thin, lightweight, and high performance near-eye displays for virtual reality. Several design alternatives are proposed, compared, and experimentally validated as prototypes. Using only thin, flat films as optical components, we demonstrate VR displays with thicknesses of less than 9 mm, fields of view of over 90◦ horizontally, and form factors approaching sunglasses. In a benchtop form factor, we also demonstrate a full color display using wavelength-multiplexed holographic lenses that uses laser illumination to provide a large gamut and highly saturated color. We show experimentally that our designs support resolutions expected of modern VR headsets and can scale to human visual acuity limits. Current limitations are identified, and we discuss challenges to obtain full practicality.

6.2 Conclusion

Lightweight, high resolution, and sunglasses-like VR displays may be the key to enabling the next generation of demanding virtual reality applications that can be taken advantage of anywhere and for extended periods of time. We made progress towards this goal by proposing a new design space for virtual reality displays that combines polarization-based optical folding, holographic optics, and a host of supporting technologies to demonstrate full color display, sunglasses-like form factors, and high resolution across a series of hardware prototypes. Many practical challenges remain: we must achieve a full color display in a sunglasses-like form factor, obtain a larger viewing eye box, and work to suppress ghost images. In doing so, we hope to be one step closer to achieving ubiquitous and immersive computing platforms that increase productivity and bridge physical distance.

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