Nov 05

Light-field powered Virtual Reality: Magic Leap secures 542 Million Dollars in Funding from Google and others

Light-field powered Virtual Reality: Magic Leap secures 542 Million Dollars in Funding from Google and others (image: Magic Leap) A rather secretive startup from Hollywood, Florida, recently made headlines for raising a spectacular investment for their vision of the next generation of Virtual Reality. Big names like Google, Qualcomm Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and others have put together the sum of 540 million US-Dollars for a company called Magic Leap, but the public isn’t even sure what the company is working on.

The official press release reads: “Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”
…and Magic Leap’s website doesn’t provide many details either.

The company is reportedly working on Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signals” (Digital Lightfield, in short), a “biomimetic” technology that “respects how we function naturally as humans”. What that means precisely, the company doesn’t explain. However, Technology Review has dug up some interesting patent applications by Magic Leap which may give us a glimpse into what convinced their investors: Continue reading

Aug 12

Light Field Powered: First Smartphones with Holographic Displays Could Arrive within Two Years

Ostendo's Quantum Photonic Imager Chips produce real 3D images with depth (top: resulting image with diffuser, bottom: actual QPI array; Youtube Screenshot via InsightMediaTV1) Just a few years ago, mobile displays took a leap forward with increased pixel densities that ensure crisp images on realtively small screens. Today, most smartphones feature displays with up to 538 pixels per inch (ppi) – a resolution that is much higher than what the human eye can see. So what’s the next display innovation we can look forward to?
In her recent article on IEEE Spectrum, Sarah Lewin introduced two companies that are working on making what she calls “holographic” light field displays (i.e. glasses-free 3D displays) a reality.

Ostendo Technologies recently presented the results of nine years’ work at the Display Week conference: An array of 4×2 Quantum Photonic Imager chips (each consisting of LEDs, image processors and embedded rendering software) plus microlens array form a 1 megapixel (1024x768px, XGA resolution) prototype display which sends out light not into every direction – like conventional displays do – but rather into very narrow, collimated angles of light. This enables the prototype to emit different images into different directions, producing about 2,500 different perspective views, so the image and motion displayed appear consistent regardless of the viewer’s position. Continue reading

Jun 06

Nvidia Near-Eye Light Field Display: Background, Design and History [Video]

Nvidia Near-Eye Light Field Display: Binocular OLED-based prototype (Youtube Screenshot) About a year ago, Nvidia presented a novel head-mounted display that is based on light field technology and offers both depth and refocus capability to the human eye. Their so-called Near-Eye Light Field Display was more a proof of concept, but it’s exciting new technology that solves a number of existing problems with stereoscopic virtual reality glasses.

Nvidia researcher Douglas Lanman recently gave a talk at Augmented World Expo (AWE2014), in which he explained the background and evolution of head-mounted displays and the history and design of Nvidia’s near-eye light field display prototypes: Continue reading

May 27

MIT: Compressive Light Field Projection System for new Glasses-Free 3D Displays

Illustration of concept. A light field projector, build using readily-available optics and electronics, emits a 4D light field onto a screen that expands the field of view so that observers on the other side of the screen can enjoy glasses-free 3D entertainment. No mechanically moving parts are used in either the projector or the screen. Additionally, the screen is completely passive, potentially allowing for the system to be scaled to significantly larger dimensions. (picture: MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group)Today’s glasses-free 3D displays ususally consist of dozens of devices, which makes them not only very complex, but also bulky, energy-consuming and costly. At SIGGRAPH 2014 conference, Gordon Wetzstein and Matthew Hirsch from the MIT’s Camera Culture Group presented a new approach to glasses-free 3D that is based on projectors and optical technology found in Keplerian telescopes. Their novel method for “Compressive Light Field Projection” consists of a single device without mechanically moving parts.
Because it’s relatively cheap to build with today’s optics and electronics, the presented prototype could pave the way for cinema-scale glasses-free 3D displays. Continue reading

Jul 25

Refocus your Eyes: Nvidia presents Near-Eye Light Field Display Prototype

At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, currently taking place in Anaheim CA, tech blog Engadget spotted an unusual participant in the “Emerging Technologies” section. Douglas Lanman and David Luebke from the research labs at graphics processing specialist Nvidia presented what may be considered a prototype of the future of Virtual Reality: a near-eye light field display.

But what does it do?
Microlens arrays, which are mounted just in front of the high resolution displays, are used to convert pixels to individual light rays, thus creating a light field directly in front of the eye. The viewer is thus able to refocus at multiple depths into the scene.

Refocus your Eyes: Nvidia presents Near-Eye Light Field Display Prototype (picture: Lanman & Luebke 2013)

Continue reading