Tag: augmented reality research

Augmented reality technology becomes more immersive

A new type of wearable technology could redefine the AR experience.

Andrew Maimone, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill PhD student, has developed augmented reality (AR) glasses that would allow users to digitally interact with the real world, except Maimone’s glasses are sleek, compact, and light and are realistically wearable and less of a “gimmick” in comparison to conventional AR devices.

The new AR glasses provide a wide field of view.

Maimone commented that while it is possible to utilize a tablet or a even a smartphone to call up a virtual place and character and superimpose it on the real world via a small mobile screen, this experience is not “very compelling” because the experience does not occur through a person’s vision. The smartphone or tablet only allows the user to look at the virtual place through a small window.

On the other hand, traditional augmented reality glasses are bulky due to several components that are required to make the technology work, such as lenses, waveguides, reflectors, beam splitters, and additional optics that relay a digital image to the eye and place it at a distance where it can be focused on by the eye. Unfortunately, all of the bulk this tech creates can limit a person’s field of view.

Maimone’s device is called a Pinlight Display and he has been working on this device in collaboration with three researchers from the University of North Carolina and two from Nvidia Research. The Pinlight Display does not rely on standard optical components. Instead, it utilizes an array of “pinlights”, which are essentially bright dots.

Maimone explains that “A transparent display panel is placed between the pinlights and the eye to modulate the light and form the perceived image.” He added that “Since the light rays that hit each display pixel come from the same direction, they appear in focus without the use of lenses.”

Early prototypes of the augmented reality Pinlight Displays have demonstrated 100 degree fields of view.

Currently, the best commercial augmented reality glasses only offer a field of view of up to 40 degrees, while Maimone’s glasses have demonstrated fields of view of 100 degrees or higher. While this is no doubt impressive, the present prototype is not without its problems. It currently has image quality and low resolution issues. Maimone says that the next step is to work on improving these elements. He firmly believes, however, that with the proper engineering and research, the technology could be made into something realistic for use in everyday life.

Augmented reality will be key to smart glasses success

Research has shown that these wearable devices will rely on true AR technology to succeed.

According to IHS, the market watcher firm, for Google Glass and other “smart glass” wearable devices to be able to succeed, they will need to be able to provide strong augmented reality experiences.

IHS feels that without AR technology, these devices will fail to achieve mainstream adoption.

They also pointed out that in order to achieve such widespread popularity, they will need to be able to become “true augmented systems” . IHS cautioned organizations making augmented reality glasses that unless application adopters discover new ways to present the wearer with useful and relevant information within their line of sight, then the devices will be little more than a camera that can be worn.

The firm feels the augmented reality information must be “safely and easily integrated into casual use”.

Within IHS’s statement it used Google as an example of the progress of the augmented reality glasses market. It spotlighted the search engine giant’s drive for its Glass project, which has focused primarily on the ability of the device to record video. This was recently demoed using a creative skydiving exercise.Augmented Reality Key to success

According to IHS senior analyst, Theo Ahadome, “The true success of Glass will be when it can provide some information to users not apparent when viewing people, places or things.” He also stated that “This information may include live updates for travel, location reviews and recommendations, nutritional information and matching personal preferences, and previous encounters to aid decision making.”

The firm identified two potential futures for the augmented reality glasses market. They feel that if marketers don’t use the full potential of AR, then there will be 1 million of the devices being shipped by 2016. This scenario would be catastrophic for Google, which is predicting that its own device will become available in 2014. Should that occur, the firm said that this number will rise to 10 million.

In 2012, there were 50,000 augmented reality glasses shipped. This should increase to 124,000 by the end of this year, as developers build their demand for the technology.