An Nvidia and Stanford research paper describes technology that could be key to Apple's thinner eyeglasses

An Nvidia and Stanford research paper describes technology that could be key to Apple’s thinner eyeglasses

A joint research paper from Nvidia and Stanford University describes technology that could be key to the difference between the massive Apple VR headset we expect to see in late 2022/early 2023 and the kind of thin Apple eyeglasses likely to be released several years later. .

One of the main challenges for any eyeglass-like augmented reality device is the physics of the display’s optics…

With a traditional VR headset, you have a relatively small screen, which you want to fill in the view of the person wearing it, requiring enough distance between the screen and the eyepiece for the necessary magnification. This, the researchers note, requires massive headphone designs.

However, the main barrier to widespread adoption of VR technology is the bulky form factor of current VR screens and the associated inconvenience. [PerkinsCoie 2019, 2021]. This problem stems from the magnifier principle of VR display optics, in which the lens magnifies the small micro-display image. This design requires a relatively large distance between the microdisplay and the lens, which makes today’s VR screens bulky and uncomfortable to wear.

One solution to this is the “flat lens” – a very flat lens design used in military headsets such as night vision goggles. But flat lenses don’t offer the kind of image quality required for extreme close-up use like augmented reality and virtual reality, and most importantly they can’t create 3D images.

Nvidia and Stanford researchers propose a different solution: holograms.

We propose a 3D near-eye display system that provides a 2D or 3D image display of each eye with a device thickness of only a few millimeters.

This non-scaled diagram gives an indication of how this can be reduced from the required depth. The depth of the prototype is only 2.5 mm.

However, 3D images come with their own image quality issues. But just as Apple uses computer photography to offer features like Portrait Mode for photos and Cinema Mode for videos, the researchers say they can do the same to fix image quality.

We propose a 3D near-eye display system that provides a 2D or 3D image display of each eye with a device thickness of only a few millimeters. Our system is based on modern ideas that use artificial intelligence techniques to improve image quality and speed up the computation of computer-generated holograms (CGH) (for example, [Peng et al. 2020; Shi et al. 2021]). With our experimental design and prototyping, we hope to stimulate new research and engineering trends toward ultra-thin, all-day wearable VR screens with similar form factors to traditional eyeglasses.

The team acknowledges that real-world applications are still some time away. In the prototype, the glasses themselves contain only display technology. Like TNW Notes, everything else is external.

It’s also important to note that the images you see of the ultra-thin VR glasses show a wearable prototype. As Jonghyun Kim – Senior Researcher at Nvidia – put itthis is “a practical demonstration, though separating the dashboard, power and light source for the conceptual image.”

That’s why we see ribbon cables running from the top of a typical device.

We expect Apple’s first AR/VR headset to look like a more elegant version of current devices like the Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive, but will be more expensive. It seems that the first generation device is more likely to be aimed at developers than consumers.

Apple glasses are advancing, and not much is known about them yet. We’re not likely to see these before 2025, if that happens.

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2022-05-05 13:29:00

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