Technology

Facebook’s newest proof-of-concept VR headset looks like a pair of sunglasses

Facebook has proven off a new proof-of-concept virtual reality headset, and it has a utterly completely different design than most different VR gadgets in the marketplace as we speak. Instead of a cumbersome contraption that covers up the highest half of your face and must be strapped to your head, this proof-of-concept headset looks type of like a pair of giant sunglasses that may sit comfortably in your ears.

Yet Facebook is billing this new machine as not a pair of augmented actuality glasses, as widespread conceptions of AR gadgets go, however a professional VR product. They’re very skinny, with a show thickness of lower than 9mm, and Facebook claims they’ve a subject of view that’s “comparable to today’s consumer VR products.” Here’s a top-down view:

Image: Facebook

The proof-of-concept glasses aren’t simply skinny for looks, although — additionally they apparently beam photos to your eyes in a approach that’s completely different than customary VR headsets in the marketplace as we speak. I’ll let Facebook’s research team clarify one of these methods, known as “holographic optics:”

Most VR shows share a widespread viewing optic: a easy refractive lens composed of a thick, curved piece or glass or plastic. We suggest changing this cumbersome component with holographic optics. You could also be conversant in holographic photos seen at a science museum or in your bank card, which seem like three-dimensional with sensible depth in or out of the web page. Like these holographic photos, our holographic optics are a recording of the interplay of laser mild with objects, however on this case the thing is a lens somewhat than a 3D scene. The result’s a dramatic discount in thickness and weight: The holographic optic bends mild like a lens however looks like a skinny, clear sticker.

The proof-of-concept headset additionally makes use of a method Facebook calls “polarization-based optical folding” to assist scale back the quantity of house between the precise show and the lens that focuses the picture. With polarization-based optical folding, “light can be controlled to move both forward and backward within the lens so that this empty space can be traversed multiple times, collapsing it to a fraction of the original volume.”

This GIF from Facebook helps visualize how each methods work collectively:

These glasses are simply a proof-of-concept, although, so it’s unclear in the event that they’ll ever come to market. “While it points toward the future development of lightweight, comfortable, and high-performance AR/VR technology, at present our work is purely research,” Facebook’s analysis crew writes in its weblog publish.

Many firms are circling across the concept of glasses-like AR/VR headsets that mix the perfect of each applied sciences into a single machine, nevertheless it often finally ends up as a bulkier VR-centric headset that makes use of outward-facing cameras to additionally carry out mild AR. Intel and Microsoft, each of which use the phrase blended actuality to explain gadgets like the HoloLens, have been investing on this concept for a while.

But extra firms are actually working behind-the-scenes to make a smaller, actually hybrid machine a actuality. Apple has reportedly been engaged on one thing like this for years, and Google simply as we speak purchased AR glasses company North, an acquisition which will enable the corporate to revive its dream of a shopper Google Glass-style heads-up show.

While we will’t make certain if any of the tech giants will launch mixture AR/VR glasses, the proof-of-concept Facebook is exhibiting off may supply a glimpse at what such a machine would possibly look like sooner or later sooner or later.

Check out this whitepaper from Andrew Maimone and Junren Wang on the Facebook Reality Labs crew if you wish to study extra about Facebook’s proof-of-concept.

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