October 3, 2023
Swiss technology firm CREAL has announced what it calls a breakthrough in lightfield technology that can greatly improve augmented reality experiences. The tech is set to be commercially released in early 2024 for integration into third-party products, CREAL CEO Tomas Sluka says the advancement will make it more comfortable to wear AR glasses, reducing eye strain, nausea and fatigue. While other companies approach AR’s challenges through solutions including passthrough, monocular projection and varifocal display, CREAL says the stack it’s built for lightfield display addresses the most pressing common issues.
CREAL is promising “genuine depth in the digital content, transparent ophthalmic lens, high brightness and high resolution.” But more importantly, “the patent-protected solution enables original equipment manufacturers and original design manufacturers to develop augmented reality glasses that provide users with accurate depth perception,” writes VentureBeat.
“Lightfield is very different from the standard ‘flat’ images provided by current displays on the market,” according to CREAL’s press release, which emphasizes “real-world depth, even if viewed by a single eye.”
Unlike some other 3D display methods, which use stereo flat-screen images for each eye, which has been known to cause headaches, “lightfield recreates the light rays as they exist in the real world, creating an incredibly realistic image with true depth and top quality.”
“Augmented reality should be the next communication interface. The logic is simple. Seeing the digital information in the same way we see reality is more natural,” Sluka said in VentureBeat,” adding that “the only thing which holds it back is that it’s not easy to do it. And the first thing is that it should be natural.”
CREAL is not the only company experimenting with lightfield 3D imaging. Meta Platforms has been developing lightfield technology as part of its pass-through efforts in a continuing quest to perfect the metaverse experience. Silicon Valley company Leia has made a specialty of mobile lightfield displays, teaming with German connectivity firm Continental to bring the technology to cars.
Road to VR wrote after a hands-on test run that CREAL’s lightfield display “brings a new layer of immersion to AR,” calling it “one of the most interesting and promising solutions for bringing lightfields to immersive headsets,” while explaining the difference between the single-eye lightfield approach, called accomodation, and the more typical stereoscopic approach, referred to as vergenge.
Formed in 2017, CREAL says in a blog post it has since then built seven prototypes, each shrinking the display’s footprint and improving image quality while reducing cost. Throughout those iterations, the focus of its work has remained “real depth of the digital content.”