Fb has proven off a new proof-of-concept virtual reality headset, and it has a very completely different design than most different VR gadgets in the marketplace as we speak. As an alternative of a cumbersome contraption that covers up the highest half of your face and needs to be strapped to your head, this proof-of-concept headset seems to be form of like a pair of enormous sun shades that may sit comfortably in your ears.
But Fb is billing this new system as not a pair of augmented actuality glasses, as widespread conceptions of AR gadgets go, however a reputable VR product. They’re very skinny, with a show thickness of lower than 9mm, and Fb claims they’ve a discipline of view that’s “akin to as we speak’s shopper VR merchandise.” Right here’s a top-down view:
The proof-of-concept glasses aren’t simply skinny for seems to be, although — in addition they apparently beam photos to your eyes in a manner that’s completely different than normal VR headsets in the marketplace as we speak. I’ll let Facebook’s research team clarify a type of methods, referred to as “holographic optics:”
Most VR shows share a standard viewing optic: a easy refractive lens composed of a thick, curved piece or glass or plastic. We suggest changing this cumbersome aspect with holographic optics. You might be acquainted with holographic photos seen at a science museum or in your bank card, which seem like three-dimensional with practical 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 moderately than a 3D scene. The result’s a dramatic discount in thickness and weight: The holographic optic bends mild like a lens however seems to be like a skinny, clear sticker.
The proof-of-concept headset additionally makes use of a method Fb calls “polarization-based optical folding” to assist scale back the quantity of area between the precise show and the lens that focuses the picture. With polarization-based optical folding, “mild may be managed to maneuver each ahead and backward throughout the lens in order that this empty area may be traversed a number of instances, collapsing it to a fraction of the unique quantity.”
This GIF from Fb helps visualize how each methods work collectively:
These glasses are only a proof-of-concept, although, so it’s unclear in the event that they’ll ever come to market. “Whereas it factors towards the long run growth of light-weight, snug, and high-performance AR/VR expertise, at current our work is solely analysis,” Fb’s analysis group writes in its weblog publish.
Many corporations are circling across the thought of glasses-like AR/VR headsets that mix the very best of each applied sciences right into a single system, but it surely 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 combined actuality to explain gadgets just like the HoloLens, have been investing on this thought for a while.
However extra corporations at the moment are working behind-the-scenes to make a smaller, actually hybrid system 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.
Whereas we are able to’t ensure if any of the tech giants will launch mixture AR/VR glasses, the proof-of-concept Fb is displaying off might provide a glimpse at what such a tool may seem like sooner or later sooner or later.
Take a look at this whitepaper from Andrew Maimone and Junren Wang on the Fb Actuality Labs group if you wish to study extra about Fb’s proof-of-concept.