AntVR, an early VR startup which struggled with a number of XR headset tasks that in the end didn’t discover traction, has reemerged with novel optics which may immediately transition between AR and VR modes.
Based in 2014, AntVR is the China-based VR startup initially behind an early crowdfunding campaign for a PC VR headset (which didn’t in the end catch on) and a newer crowdfunding campaign for an AR headset which wound up tanking the company after failing to lift sufficient cash to get the headset out the door. The corporate claims it has since drastically shrunk its workers and picked up some R&D work which earned sufficient cash to refund backers of its failed AR headset.
And now the corporate is again with one thing that’s really fairly fascinating. At CES 2023, AntVR was displaying off its ‘combined waveguide AR optics’, which makes use of a novel strategy to maintain a slim profile, whereas on the identical time together with a dimming function to immediately change between see-through AR and full VR modes. Though the corporate demonstrated their tech working in a pair of glasses frames, AntVR doesn’t plan to fabricate its personal headset this time round, however as an alternative is hoping one other firm will license the optical design and combine it into their very own headset.
AntVR was displaying three totally different sizes of its optics, a 6mm thick model with a claimed 56° field-of-view, a 9mm thick model with an 85° field-of-view, and a ten.5mm thick model with a 120° field-of-view.
Naturally, probably the most visually immersive amongst them (the 120° FoV) was probably the most fascinating to me, and it additionally stands aside from the opposite two as a result of it makes use of two shows per-eye (otherwise you would possibly name it two halves of a show, per-eye). Close to as I can inform, that is the way it works:
There’s basically half of a show above the attention, and half of a show beneath. Each pictures are guided by way of the lens, then fused to kind a single picture as the sunshine heads towards the attention. It’s a neat strategy as a result of it means the width of the entire show pipeline can basically be minimize in half, which is how these optics handle to remain comparatively skinny whereas offering a large field-of-view. Granted, at 10.5mm, these are undoubtedly nonetheless thicker than glasses lenses (which different firms have achieved), however definitely extra compact than many birdbath optics that we see with top-mounted shows.
And the AntVR optics have one other little trick up their sleeve: an immediate dimming operate which lets you change between clear AR and full VR on the press of a button.
Whereas the dimming didn’t minimize out 100% of the incoming gentle, it was undoubtedly up there at possibly 90%, which offered an efficient backdrop to give attention to the digital content material in entrance of you with out being distracted at what’s on the opposite aspect of the glasses.
This type of dimming isn’t new (virtually definitely achieved with LCD), however it ‘s fascinating to see it in motion and picture the probabilities of a future headset that may embrace this immediate switching performance.
The AntVR prototypes have been quite crude, and there’s a whole lot of questions left to be answered earlier than figuring out in the event that they’d be really sensible in a headset; issues like most transparency, distortion of the actual world, color-reproduction, energy consumption, value, if they are often canted, and the way a lot of a seam between the 2 pictures will probably be obvious in real-world use (the demos at CES have been mounted in place, so there was no head-tracking to check with). And albeit, one severe potential problem with this setup is how a lot it could distort the consumer’s eyes when see by outsiders—no person desires to stroll round with that ‘coke bottle glasses’ look.
Nonetheless, the compact form-factor spurred by the half-and-half show structure, and the mixture of immediate opacity switching makes these fairly fascinating and one thing I’ll be preserving my eye on.