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

Jul 06

Pinlight Display: Light Field Glasses for Augmented-Reality Applications

Nvidia Pinlight Display: Light Field Glasses for Augmented-Reality Applications (picture: Siggraph 2014 website) Earlier this year at Augmented World Expo, Nvidia researcher Douglas Lanman gave a talk about Near-Eye Light Field displays, i.e. electronic glasses which allow users to experience both 3D and depth. When asked about Augmented Reality (AR) applications during the discussion, Lanman noted that creating a set of transparent glasses that would also include microlenses (or something equivalent) but still allow “normal” see-through vision, was a real challenge. He very briefly teased “pinlight displays”, which were to be presented at the same conference, but no further information could be found online.

In the Emerging Technologies section of the Siggraph 2014 conference (10-14 August 2014), Adam Maimone and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Nvidia will be presenting their new invention in a talk entitled “Pinlight Displays: Wide-Field-of-View Augmented-Reality Eyeglasses Using Defocused Point-Light Sources”. 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

Apr 25

Hybrid Camera for High-Resolution Software Refocus and Improved Depth of Field

Improving Resolution and Depth-of-Field of Light Field Cameras Using a Hybrid Imaging System (picture: Boominathan et al. 2014) In comparison to conventional digital cameras, current light field cameras are still limited in spatial resolution and depth of field control. Using a new camera combination, Vivek Boominathan and colleagues from Rice University were able to lift these limitations.
In a recent publication, the authors present a prototype hybrid imaging system consisting of a Lytro light field camera (380 x 380 pixel spatial resolution) and a conventional Canon DSLR (18 megapixel resolution). The setup doesn’t require co-location or prior calibration of the two cameras. In conjunction with a “simple patch-based algorithm”, the researchers were able to produce a high-resolution light field with 9 times the Lytro camera’s resolution and about 1/9th of the camera’s depth of field. Continue reading