3D display could make Google Glass easier on the eyes


June 6, 2014

A new 3D display should reduce the eye strain currently associated with devices like Google Glass (Photo: Joe Seer/Shutterstock)

A new 3D display should reduce the eye strain currently associated with devices like Google Glass (Photo: Joe Seer/Shutterstock)

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Researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of Connecticut have developed a technology for augmented reality devices that superimposes data over three dimensions rather than two. The technique makes the user experience much more seamless and vastly reduces eye strain, making AR devices more attractive for long-term use.

Once battery and semiconductor technologies inevitably catch up with even the most demanding of us consumers, augmented reality devices like Google Glass won't be as conspicuous and functionally limited as they are right now. Eventually, their convenience might compel us to trade in our beloved smartphones for a pair of augmented reality goggles (or even contact lenses). That is, if our eyes don't have to pay the price for it in the meantime.

Superimposing data like directions, search results and real-time product reviews on top of the world around us can be extremely convenient, but it can also cause conflicting depth perception cues leading to eye strain, as your eyes keep switching back and forth between the data and the real world. If augmented reality is here to stay, we need to solve this issue to make it viable for long-term use.

Researchers Hong Hua and Bahram Javidi have developed a technology that addresses the problem in an elegant way. They developed a device, the "microscopic integral imaging display," which reduces eye strain by superimposing images that are three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional.

At first a small, high-resolution screen takes the three-dimensional image that you want to project and generates dozens of views of the virtual object from many different perspectives (see the picture above). Those images are then stitched together to generate a 3D scene. The final image is sent to a special see-through optical lens: when looking through the lens, you can see the 3D image sitting naturally in the real world, leading to single consistent view, and no eye strain.

The researchers built a prototype pair of AR goggles that uses their technique and were able to demonstrate its effectiveness, showing how the virtual image sits naturally within the environment whether your eyes are focusing on an object that's close or a long distance away.

Hua and Javidi are now working to improve the viewing angle of their device, as well as depth and spatial resolution. Considering how the supporting technology is evolving at a rapid pace, they are confident about their prospects for improving and then commercializing their invention.

A paper describing the advance appears in the journal Optics Express.

Source: Optics Express

About the Author
Dario Borghino Dario studied software engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin. When he isn't writing for Gizmag he is usually traveling the world on a whim, working on an AI-guided automated trading system, or chasing his dream to become the next European thumbwrestling champion. All articles by Dario Borghino
1 Comment

I wonder why Google doesn't also look to helmets as a platform for Glass. I think I know more people that wear helmets than I do that still wear glasses. Most people I know that require corrective lenses have gone to great lengths with contacts and lasik etc. so they don't have to be seen in public wearing glasses.

With helmets on the other hand Both hands are occupied so its harder to reach for a mobile phone, Motorcycle GPS systems are still mostly expensive and lacking in good places to mount them, they are also difficult to hear on a motorcycle Expensive bluetooth sets are already required to communicate with passengers. Even with bluetooth to a phone for calls the experience could still use work since you can't easily get to the phone in your pocket. Its difficult to take photos with your phone There is demand for helmet cams like GoPro etc. for a handful or good reasons Helmets also have more room for things like batteries and storage than glasses do.

Google glass could replace most of these features in a helmet based platform and they could probably add some cool features along the way like a rearview camera for times when I don't want to use my mirrors to just look at my elbows.

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