In the run-up to SIGGRAPH 2022, August 8-11 at the Vancouver Convention Center, Nvidia is unveiling some splashy designs, including what is described as the world’s thinnest VR glasses (just 2.5mm). Developed in conjunction with Stanford University, the team says the new VR headset can easily be modified to achieve a 120-degree diagonal field-of-view (though the initial prototypes are much narrower in scope). The lightweight glasses provide a true holographic display but can also display flat images. Most current VR headsets achieve depth by converging flat images for a stereoscopic view.
The new VR glasses will be the subject of one among more than a dozen papers Nvidia is presenting at SIGGRAPH. Co-authored by Nvidia and Stanford, the paper Holographic Glasses for Virtual Reality demonstrates building a holographic display using a radically different approach than what is currently in use (or even revealed to be in development by the major VR firms) and can potentially “one day lead to VR headsets as thin as sunglasses,” according to UploadVR.
This very different approach to VR optics “uses a spatial light modulator combined with a waveguide rather than a traditional lens,” explains Road to VR. A pupil-replicating waveguide and geometric phase lens also distinguish the system.
“Remarkably it’s a true holographic display, providing realistic depth cues to mitigate a major flaw with today’s headsets called the vergence-accommodation conflict — the discomfort your eyes feel because they’re pointing toward the virtual distance of virtual objects but focusing to the fixed focal distance of the lenses,” writes UploadVR, suggesting Nvidia’s research is “more impressive” than “the 9mm ‘holographic’ glasses Facebook researchers presented two years ago” because Facebook’s prototype “was monochrome, not full color, and was fixed focus, not actually holographic.”
At the moment, the Nvidia-Stanford VR system’s most severe limitation is the 23-degree field of view through an 8mm eyebox that even with eye tracking offers “a fraction” of what is available in “current headsets, and narrower than even today’s primitive AR glasses,” UploadVR says.
“The researchers claim that by stacking two geometric phase lenses and using a larger spatial light modulator the field of view could reach as wide as 120-degree diagonal ‘without significantly increasing the total thickness,’” a proposition the news site calls “extraordinary” and says “we’d need to see demonstrated in a future project to believe.”
The 16 research papers Nvidia is presenting at SIGGRAPH explore advances in the fields of neural rendering, 3D simulation, real-time lighting, holography and more.
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