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Facebook’s Amazing New Virtual Reality Headset Looks Like A Pair Of Sunglasses

by : Cameron Frew on : 30 Jun 2020 12:12
Facebook's Amazing New Virtual Reality Headset Looks Like A Pair Of SunglassesFacebook's Amazing New Virtual Reality Headset Looks Like A Pair Of SunglassesFacebook

Facebook’s new prototype headset boasts the thinnest VR display to date – and it looks just like a pair of sunglasses. 

Virtual reality has grown immensely in popularity throughout the past five years. Whether it be the Oculus Rift, Vive, PS VR or even the budget ones you can pop your smartphone in, more and more households are equipped with headsets.

While very much still in its infancy, VR kits aren’t exactly beacons of subtlety. They’re often rather large pieces of technology – understandable considering their immersive purpose. However, Facebook has other ideas in that department.

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You can check out a glimpse of what Facebook’s new VR headset is capable of in the video below: 

While it’s very much a proof-of-concept device at the time of writing, the social media behemoth’s latest invention could rock the industry: supposedly the world’s thinnest VR display, packed into a design much like a pair of sunglasses. Welcome to the future of ‘lightweight, comfortable, and high-performance AR/VR technology’.

Following its work on Half Dome 2 and 3 – prototype headsets focused on the benefits of varifocal displays – Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) has now turned to ‘Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality’.

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Virtual Reality Facebook HeadsetsVirtual Reality Facebook HeadsetsFacebook Research

In the paper, FRL researchers Andrew Maimone and Junren Wang have put forward ‘a new class of near-eye displays, which combine the power of holographic optics and polarisation-based optical folding – an approach that could be used to develop future sunglasses-like VR hardware’.

The goal with this headset was to create a field of view comparable to that available on the market, albeit with supremely thin optics and lighter weight. The current prototype features lenses with a thickness of less than 9mm.

Facebook VR HeadsetFacebook VR HeadsetFacebook Research
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Explaining the technology of ‘holographic optics and polarisation-based optical folding’ further, the researchers wrote: 

Most VR displays share a common viewing optic: A simple refractive lens composed of a thick, curved piece or glass or plastic. We propose replacing this bulky element with holographic optics.

You may be familiar with holographic images seen at a science museum or on your credit card, which appear to be three-dimensional with realistic depth in or out of the page. Like these holographic images, our holographic optics are a recording of the interaction of laser light with objects, but in this case the object is a lens rather than a 3D scene.

By opting for this technology, the researchers found a ‘dramatic reduction in thickness and weight’. ‘We anticipate that such lightweight and comfortable form factors may enable extended VR sessions and new use cases, including productivity,’ they added.

Work is currently underway on achieving full colour on the smaller prototype, compared to the larger benchtop device. ‘We’re excited to see what the future holds,’ they wrote.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Technology, Facebook, Gaming, Now, Virtual Reality, VR

Credits

Facebook Research
  1. Facebook Research

    Holographic optics for thin and lightweight virtual reality