Virtual and Augmented Reality Imaging
by: Graham Leslie
Oculus Rift has established itself as the defacto standard for virtual reality, while multiple products fight to come to the forefront of augmented reality. In either case, we’ve seen some different visualization techniques in each product. In this post I’ll briefly discuss visualization in VR and AR today, and where it could go tomorrow.
Oculus Rift: Dual Image Magnification
The Oculus Rift headset is a fairly straightforward piece of hardware comprised of just a few off-the-shelf components. A HD display from a Galaxy Note 3 resides in the enclosure. Not too far from the screen are a set of lenses that can be adjusted to the user’s visual preference or swapped to a pair designed for those with nearsightedness.
Software generates two slightly different views of the game or application, one for each eye. Those two views are placed side-by-side and presented to the user to create the illusion of real vision through stereoscopic 3DGoogle Glass: Single Image Reflection
Google Glass takes a different approach through a series of reflections. A Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) display on the arm of the glasses renders the single image, which is reflected through several components until it reaches the user’s eye.
The image is only displayed for one eye, so images are restricted to 2D. However, without software distortion and magnification, the 2D image Glass presents is much clearer and not prone to the screen door effect Oculus suffers from.
Magic Leap: The Possible Feature
Although Magic Leap hasn’t publicly released their vision, their patent filings have suggested that the company could bring forward radical new visualization techniques. Gizmodo recently published an article describing some fantastic new technology brought to Magic Leap’s table by Professor Eric Seibel from the University of Washington.
Seibel’s research includes micro-scale fiber optic cameras. In the video below, Seibel describes the applications of a fiber optic camera only one millimeter in diameter:
As if that isn’t cool enough — flipping the light around turns the same cable into a projector. Gizmodo explains that the projection capabilities of the fiber optic cable could very well be used to project an AR display into a user’s eyes. Screenless display could revolutionize the every-day usage capabilities of VR and AR.
Biggie was right about revolutionary AR and VR for a while: “it was all a dream”. Today forward, we’ll see some of those dreams come to light.