Waveguide optics are more and more trying like the most effective near-term resolution for creating AR glasses which are actually glasses-sized. Lumus is one such waveguide firm and just lately let their newest waveguide prototype, the 50° FOV ‘Maximus’, be examined below the proverbial microscope. Via-the-lens pictures of Lumus Maximus reveal spectacular ‘retina’ decision of 60 PPD, together with wonderful brightness and main picture uniformity.
Lumus is one in all a handful of firms constructing waveguides, however their method is not like most. Reasonably than diffractive waveguides, the corporate builds reflective waveguides which deliver some benefits, particularly in gentle effectivity, which implies larger brightness (vital for out of doors use) and extra clear lenses (vital for with the ability to appear like ‘regular’ glasses reasonably than darkened sun shades).
Close to-eye show professional Karl Guttag acquired to look at the Lumus Maximus waveguide up shut, together with getting permission to take through-the-lens pictures with recognized take a look at patterns for measuring efficient decision. Guttag got here away impressed with the efficiency of the Maximus waveguide throughout a variety of metrics, although he notes that it’s but to be confirmed whether or not or not the corporate’s manufacturing technique is scalable.Picture courtesy Karl Guttag
The Lumus Maximus prototype that Guttag examined was merely a head-mounted show constructed to indicate off the waveguide; it doesn’t at the moment embrace any of the on-board compute, sensors, or batteries that might nonetheless must be packed into the glasses to make them correct standalone AR glasses—as DigiLens has performed with its Design v1. Nonetheless, the Maximus was useful from a show standpoint, permitting for an in depth take a look at real-world visible efficiency.
The present prototype makes use of a 2,048 × 2,048 LCOS microdisplay (per-eye) and spreads these pixels throughout a 50° diagonal field-of-view. Even with all these pixels you might wind up with poor picture high quality for those who can’t exactly management the sunshine because it makes its method from the show, via the optics, and into the person’s eye.
The Lumus Maximus waveguide appears to do nice job of preserving the show readability, even after all of the bouncing essential to develop the picture from the tiny microdisplay to the total 50° field-of-view.Picture courtesy Karl Guttag
Guttag discovered that the Maximus waveguide managed an angular decision of 60 pixels per-degree on the heart of the show, which meets the ‘retina decision’ bar. In concept, which means for those who have been holding an augmented actuality guide in entrance of you at a traditional distance, you’d simply be capable of make out the letters on the web page (assuming the picture processing pipeline utilized throughout head monitoring doesn’t sacrifice any readability).
For comparability, no shopper VR headset available on the market has achieved 60 pixels per-degree, not even the upcoming Vive Professional 2 with its class-leading 2,448 × 2,448 decision. It is because VR headsets unfold their decision out over a a lot bigger space, which trades angular decision in favor of a wider field-of-view.
Brightness is massively vital in AR glasses as a result of many use-cases are imagined to occur on-the-go, which incorporates outdoor throughout sunny days. If you happen to don’t have sufficient brightness, customers will hardly be capable of see what’s proven within the glasses when the backdrop is shiny. Many AR headsets wrestle to attain brightness that’s even adequate for indoor utilization, which is why they have an inclination to tint the lenses like sun shades.
As a reflective waveguide, brightness appears to be one in all Lumus’ key benefits. Guttag experiences that the corporate claims three,000 nit brightness for the Maximus prototype. Equally vital because the brightness of the ensuing picture is the effectivity of all the optical pipeline. In case your optical pipeline loses 90% of the sunshine put into it, you possibly can theoretically add a brighter gentle supply to succeed in your required output brightness—however this comes at the price of extra bulk, warmth, and value. Thus, a minimally shiny gentle supply mixed with a extremely environment friendly optical pipeline is right.Picture courtesy Karl Guttag
To that finish, Lumus claims it expects Maximus will attain an effectivity of 650 nits per-lumen, which Guttag factors out is greater than ten occasions as environment friendly because the WaveOptics waveguide which sits at 50 nits per-lumen (which is why we aren’t shocked to see the brand new Snap AR glasses with a darkish sun shades tint). Not all diffractive waveguides could also be as inefficient as WaveOptics nonetheless; in our latest hands-on with DigiLens’ newest (diffractive) waveguides, the corporate stated they’ve reached 300 nits per-lumen.
The Lumus Maximus prototype additionally exhibits spectacular picture uniformity, which is the consistency of brightness, coloration, and determination throughout the show (colloquially known as the ‘candy spot’ within the VR area).Picture courtesy Karl Guttag
Above we will see a comparability between Maximus and HoloLens 2, the latter of which has lengthy suffered from poor coloration uniformity, inflicting a rainbow-like haze over the view. Whereas HoloLens 2 is a worse-case instance for comparability, Maximus nonetheless seems to be forward of others as nicely. “The colour and brightness uniformity of the picture, whereas not excellent, is vastly higher than every other waveguide-type optics I’ve seen,” says Guttag.
Granted, there’s nonetheless room for enchancment. Whereas the Maximus above clearly seems to be higher than HoloLens 2, you possibly can nonetheless clearly see the colour uniformity and brightness begin to fall off on the corners of the Maximus picture. Whereas this wouldn’t be as a lot of a difficulty with an immersive field-of-view, recall the picture right here is simply 50° diagonally, which implies the corners of the picture usually are not far into the peripheral view the place poor uniformity could be much less noticable.
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For all of its spectacular optical efficiency, an enormous query stays at this stage within the growth of shopper AR glasses: can Lumus’ reflective waveguides affordably scale to giant manufacturing volumes?Picture courtesy Schott
Final 12 months Lumus introduced a strategic partnership with glass specialty firm Schott to develop manufacturing capability and obtain what the businesses name “beneficial prices.” Guttag figures that Lumus’ method could possibly be “a minimum of as cost-effective as diffractive waveguides” given the suitable funding in manufacturing.
For an much more detailed evaluation of the Lumus Maximus prototype, try Guttag’s full article.
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