‘Breakthrough’ Pancake Lenses Could Bring Compact Headsets

Kopin revealed the primary all-plastic pancake lenses, which it says can allow far more compact VR headset designs.

“This main breakthrough represents a foundational milestone for the rising VR markets. Cumbersome, heavy headsets have been a serious barrier to quicker shopper adoption for a few years,” mentioned Kopin’s CEO and founder John C C Fan.

Kopin Company produces OLED microdisplays that are extremely appropriate for pancake lenses.

Pancake Optics?

The first driver of the dimensions and bulk of as we speak’s VR is the optical design. Most headsets as we speak use comparatively giant, thick fresnel lenses to amplify a smartphone-sized show that’s typically break up in two. A big hole between the lenses & show is required. After including housing, even probably the most streamlined designs find yourself over 400 grams.

'Breakthrough' Pancake Lenses Might Deliver Compact Headsets 9 Diagram from Oculus Join 5

Pancake lenses have been utilized in head mounted shows (HMDs) for many years in labs and by militaries. Immediately, they’re seen as a promising path to compact headsets, as a result of the show could be a lot nearer to the lenses and bodily smaller. They do current their very own challenges, nonetheless.

'Breakthrough' Pancake Lenses Might Deliver Compact Headsets 10 eMagin pancake lens design, 2015

Again in 2015, eMagin confirmed an especially compact prototype HMD design utilizing pancake lenses paired with its personal microdisplays. Kopin truly confirmed an identical design with its microdisplays in 2017.

Panasonic and Pico extra not too long ago confirmed ideas of compact headsets utilizing pancake lenses. Huawei launched a product with pancake lenses in China in December 2019, utilizing small LCD panels. With out a monitoring system or battery, these headsets find yourself round 150 grams.

Huawei VR Glass Huawei’s VR Glass, bought in China since late 2019, weighs 166 grams

Pancake lenses use a number of parts. To keep away from a picture “ghosting” impact a type of needed to be glass, driving up the load & value.

Kopin P95

Kopin’s new pancake lens, known as P95, makes use of two plastic parts as an alternative. Kopin says a “main breakthrough” has virtually eradicated the ghosting drawback, whereas delivering “higher picture high quality, a lot smaller measurement, lighter weight and decrease value than something beforehand out there”.


So will all VR headsets transfer to P95 optics quickly? Most likely not. Pancake lenses have very low effectivity – they block most mild, making typical shows look dim and washed out. This may be labored round with very vivid shows, however that will increase the facility requirement, which could possibly be a serious barrier to battery-powered units.

Smaller, closeup shows additionally make it difficult to ship a large discipline of view. Kopin says P95 has a discipline of view 95° diagonal – round 20% narrower than typical shopper VR as we speak.

Kopin says it filed a number of patents on this new lens design, and says it has one “design-in associate” to date – although didn’t elaborate on particular plans.

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