New Optic Could Revolutionize Augmented Reality
10 July 2014
The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and local company TruLife Optics have together created a new optical component that is set to transform augmented reality devices.
The new optic is quite lightweight. It consists of a glass waveguide which is about 10 cm long, 3 cm wide and 2.8 mm thick and contains two holograms about the size of postage stamps. The light is transmitted into the first hologram and then turned 90 degrees through the length of the waveguide via total internal reflection. When it reaches the second hologram, it is turned another 90 degrees so it can be projected into the human eye.
Augmented reality devices allow people to see the world that surrounds them overlaid with data that's relevant to what they are seeing. The applications are various, ranging from head-up displays on car windshields that show speed, navigation and safety information, to headsets that provide surgeons with patient health data during an operation.
The optic, which is is yet to receive a patent, offers special advantages for augmented reality devices. It allows for images to be displayed in high definition, in full color, in perfect focus and in 3D through the center of a field of vision.
The image is transparent, thus enabling perfect overlay of information on the subject being viewed.
Simon Hall, lead scientist in Adaptive Optics at NPL, called the joint creation with TruLife Optics a 'game-changing technology' - one that will transform and speed up the development of augmented reality devices and applications.