Optical head-mounted display

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A man controls Google Glass using the touchpad built into the side of the device

An optical head-mounted display (OHMD) is a wearable device that has the capability of reflecting projected images as well as allowing the user to see through it, similar to augmented reality technology. OHMD technology has existed since 1997 in various forms, but despite a number of attempts from industry, has yet to be commercialised.

Types[edit]

Various techniques have existed for see-through HMDs. Most of these techniques can be summarized into two main families: "Curved Mirror" (or Curved Combiner) based and "Waveguide" or "Light-guide" based. The curved mirror technique has been used by Vuzix in their Star 1200 product, by Olympus, and by Laster Technologies. Various waveguide techniques have existed for some time. These techniques include diffraction optics, holographic optics, polarized optics, and reflective optics:

  • Diffractive waveguide – slanted diffraction grating elements (nanometric 10E-9). Nokia technique now licensed to Vuzix.
  • Holographic waveguide – 3 holographic optical elements (HOE) sandwiched together (RGB). Used by Sony and Konica Minolta.
  • Polarized waveguide – 6 multilayer coated (25–35) polarized reflectors in glass sandwich. Developed by Lumus.
  • Reflective waveguide – thick light guide with single semi-reflective mirror. This technique is used by Epson in their Moverio product.
  • "Clear-Vu" reflective waveguide – thin monolithic molded plastic w/ surface reflectors and conventional coatings developed by Optinvent and used in their ORA product.
  • Switchable waveguide – developed by SBG Labs.

Input devices[edit]

Head-mounted displays are not designed to be workstations, and traditional input devices such as keyboards do not support the concept of smart glasses. Input devices that lend themselves to mobility and/or hands-free use are good candidates, for example:

Recent developments[edit]

2012[edit]

  • On 17 April 2012, Oakley's CEO Colin Baden stated that the company has been working on a way to project information directly onto lenses since 1997, and has 600 patents related to the technology, many of which apply to optical specifications.[1]
  • On 18 June 2012, Canon announced the MR (Mixed Reality) System which simultaneously merges virtual objects with the real world at full scale and in 3D. Unlike the Google Glass, the MR System is aimed for professional use with a price tag for the headset and accompanying system is $125,000, with $25,000 in expected annual maintenance.[2]

2013[edit]

  • At MWC 2013, the Japanese company Brilliant Service introduced the Viking OS, an operating system for HMD's which was written in Objective-C and relies on gesture control as a primary form of input. It includes a facial recognition system and was demonstrated on a revamp version of Vuzix STAR 1200XL glasses ($4,999) which combined a generic RGB camera and a PMD CamBoard nano depth camera.[3]
  • At Maker Faire 2013, the startup company Technical Illusions unveiled castAR augmented reality glasses which are well equipped for an AR experience: infrared LEDs on the surface detect the motion of an interactive infrared wand, and a set of coils at its base are used to detect RFID chip loaded objects placed on top of it; it uses dual projectors at a framerate of 120 Hz and a retroreflective screen providing a 3D image that can be seen from all directions by the user; a camera sitting on top of the prototype glasses is incorporated for position detection, thus the virtual image changes accordingly as a user walks around the CastAR surface.[4]

2016[edit]

  • The Latvian-based company NeckTec announced the smart necklace form-factor designed to facilitate AR glasses development due to transfer of processor and batteries in the necklace, thus making facial frame lite and elegant while augmenting the power and usage life of the AR device. The smart necklace serves as media player with almost unlimited storage and as Bluetooth headset for smartphone with cozy earphones storage, has patented key elements for AV glasses connection.

Market structure[edit]

Analytics company IHS has estimated that the shipments of smart glasses may rise from just 50,000 units in 2012 to as high as 6.6 million units in 2016.[5] According to a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. adults conducted by Forrester Research, around 12 percent of respondents are willing to wear Google Glass or other similar device if it offers a service that piques their interest.[6] Business Insider's BI Intelligence expects an annual sales of 21 million Google Glass units by 2018.[7]

According to reliable reports, Samsung and Microsoft are expected to develop their own version of Google Glass within six months with a price range of $200 to $500. Samsung has reportedly bought lenses from Lumus, a company based in Israel. Another source says Microsoft is negotiating with Vuzix.[8]

In 2006, Apple filed patent for its own HMD device.[9]

In July 2013, APX Labs founder and CEO Brian Ballard stated that he knows of 25-30 hardware companies who are working on their own versions of smart glasses, some of which APX is working with.[10]

Comparison of various OHMDs technologies[edit]

Combiner technology Size Eye box FOV Other Example
Flat combiner 45 degrees Thick Medium Medium Traditional design Vuzix, Google Glass
Curved combiner Thick Large Large Classical bug-eye design Many products (see through and occlusion)
Phase conjugate material Thick Medium Medium Very bulky OdaLab
Buried Fresnel combiner Thin Large Medium Parasitic diffraction effects The Technology Partnership (TTP)
Cascaded prism/mirror combiner Variable Medium to Large Medium Louver effects Lumus, Optinvent
Free form TIR combiner Medium Large Medium Bulky glass combiner Canon, Verizon & Kopin (see through and occlusion)
Diffractive combiner with EPE Very thin Very large Medium Haze effects, parasitic effects, difficult to replicate Nokia / Vuzix
Holographic waveguide combiner Very thin Medium to Large in H Medium Requires volume holographic materials Sony
Holographic light guide combiner Medium Small in V Medium Requires volume holographic materials Konica Minolta
Combo diffuser/contact lens Thin (glasses) Very large Very large Requires contact lens + glasses Innovega & EPFL
Tapered opaque light guide Medium Small Small Image can be relocated Olympus

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milian, Mark (17 April 2012). "Oakley Tests Technology That Would Rival Google's Project Glass". bloomberg.com.
  2. ^ "3D evolved: Hands-on with Canon's MREAL virtual reality system". digitaltrends.com. 21 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Dual-Eye Augmented Reality Goggles Recognize Faces, Gestures". laptopmag.com. 25 February 2013.
  4. ^ "How two Valve engineers walked away with the company's augmented reality glasses". theverge.com. 18 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Spurred by Google Glass, IHS Forecasts Nearly 10 Million Smart Glasses to Ship from 2012 to 2016". IHS.com. 24 April 2013.
  6. ^ "21.6 million geeky Americans want Google Glass right now". bizjournals.com. 21 June 2013.
  7. ^ "BI INTELLIGENCE FORECAST: Google Glass Will Be An $11 Billion Market By 2018". businessinsider.com. 21 May 2013.
  8. ^ Sloane, Garett (15 May 2013). "Microsoft, Samsung developing high-tech specs to rival Google Glass". nypost.com.
  9. ^ Bonnington, Christina (7 March 2013). "Take That, Google Glass: Apple Granted Patent for Head-Mounted Display". Wired.com.
  10. ^ "Before Google Glass, there was Terminator Vision. Now its maker focuses on enterprise". pandodaily.com. 12 July 2013.

Further reading[edit]