AR Smart Glasses, Next Frontier Of FaceBook

Facebook is hard at work on the technical breakthroughs needed to ship futuristic smart glasses that can let you see virtual objects in the real world. A patent application for a “waveguide display with two-dimensional scanner” was published on Thursday by three members from the advanced research division of Facebook’s virtual-reality subsidiary, Oculus.

The smart glasses being developed by Oculus will use a waveguide display to project light onto the wearer’s eyes instead of a more traditional display. The smart glasses would be able to display images, video, and work with connected speakers or headphones to play audio when worn.The display “may augment views of a physical, real-world environment with computer-generated elements” and “may be included in an eye-wear comprising a frame and a display assembly that presents media to a user’s eyes,” according to the filing.

By using waveguide technology, Facebook is taking a similar approach to Microsoft‘s HoloLens AR headset and the mysterious glasses being developed by the Google-backed startup Magic Leap.

One of the authors of the patent is, in fact, lead Oculus optical scientist Pasi Saarikko, who joined Facebook in 2015 after leading the optical design of the HoloLens at Microsoft.

While work is clearly being done on the underlying technology for Facebook‘s smart glasses now, don’t expect to see the device anytime soon. Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Oculus, recently said that AR glasses won’t start replacing smartphones until as early as 2022.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called virtual and augmented reality the next major computing platform capable of replacing smartphones and traditional PCs. Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion in 2014 and plans to spend billions more on developing the technology.

Source: http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/
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Legally Blind People Can See With A New Kind Of Glasses

A Canadian company based in Toronto has suceeded to build a kind of Google glass that is able to give back full sight to legally blind people.  The eSight is an augmented reality headset that houses a high-speed, high-definition camera that captures everything the user is looking at.

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Algorithms enhance the video feed and display it on two, OLED screens in front of the user’s eyes. Full color video images are clearly seen by the eSight user with unprecedented visual clarity and virtually no lag. With eSight’s patented Bioptic Tilt capability, users can adjust the device to the precise position that, for them, presents the best view of the video while maximizing side peripheral vision. This ensures a user’s balance and prevents nausea – common problems with other immersive technologies. A blind individual can use both of their hands while they use eSight to see. It is lightweight, worn comfortably around the eyes and designed for various environments and for use throughout the day.

eSight is a comprehensive customized medical device that can replace all the many single-task assistive devices that are currently available but do not provide actual sight (e.g. white canes, magnifying devices, service animals, Braille machines, CCTV scanners, text-to-speech software). It allows a user to instantly auto-focus between short-range vision (reading a book or text on a smartphone) to mid-range vision (seeing faces or watching TV) to long-range vision (looking down a hallway or outsidea window). It is the only device for the legally blind that enables mobility without causing issues of imbalance or nausea (common with other immersive options). A legally blind individual can use eSight not just to see while sitting down but while being independently mobile (e.g. walking, exercising, commuting, travelling, etc).

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is taking advantages of recent improvements in technology from VR headsets and smartphones that have trickled down to improve the latest version of the eSight. So far, the company has sold roughly a thousand units, but at $10,000 apiece, they’re not cheap (and most insurances apparently don’t cover the product), although eSight’s chief executive Brian Mech notes to the WSJ that getting devices to users is “a battle we are starting to wage.”

Source: https://www.esighteyewear.com/

Virtual Images that Blend In And Interact With The Real-World

Avegant, a Silicon Valley startup that sells a pair of headphones equipped with a VR-like portable screen, is breaking into augmented reality. The company today announced that it’s developed a new type of headset technology powered by a so-called light field display.

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The research prototype, which Avegant eventually plans on turning into a consumer product, is based on the company’s previous work with its Glyph projector. That device was a visor of sorts that floats a virtual movie screen in front of your eyes, and developing it gave Avegant insight into how to build an AR headset of its own.

Like Microsoft’s HoloLens and the supposed prototype from secretive AR startup Magic Leap, Avegant’s new headset creates virtual images that blend in and interact with the real-world environment. In a demo, the company’s wired prototype proved to be superior in key ways to the developer version of the HoloLens. Avegant attributes this not to the power of its tethered PC, but to the device’s light field display — a technology Magic Leap also claims to have developed, yet has never been shown off to the public.

The demo I experienced featured a tour of a virtual Solar System, an immersion within an ocean environment, and a conversation with a virtual life-sized human being standing in the same room. To be fair, Avegant was using a tethered and bulky headset that wasn’t all that comfortable, while the HoloLens developer version is a refined wireless device. Yet with that said, Avegant’s prototype managed to expand the field of view, so you’re looking through a window more the size of a Moleskine notebook instead of a pack of playing cards. The images it produced also felt sharper, richer, and more realistic.

In the Solar System demo, I was able to observe a satellite orbiting an Earth no larger than a bocce ball and identify the Big Red Spot on Jupiter. Avegant constructed its demo to show off how these objects could exist at different focal lengths in a fixed environment — in this case a converted conference room at the company’s Belmont, California office. So I was able to stand behind the Sun and squint until the star went out of focus in one corner of my vision and a virtual Saturn and its rings became crystal clear in the distance.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/

Apple Testing Augmented Reality ‘Smart Glasses’

As part of its effort to expand further into wearable devices, Apple is working on a set of smart glasses, reports Bloomberg. Citing sources familiar with Apple‘s plans, the site says the smart glasses would connect wirelessly to the iPhone, much like the Apple Watch, and would display “images and other information” to the wearer. Apple has contacted potential suppliers about its glasses project and has ordered “small quantities” of near-eye displays, suggesting the project is in the exploratory prototyping phase of development. If work on the glasses progresses, they could be released in 2018.

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AR can be really great,” says Tim Cook, CEO of Apple in July. “We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We’re high on AR in the long run.

Apple‘s glasses sound similar to Google Glass, the head-mounted display that Google first introduced in 2013. Google Glass used augmented reality and voice commands to allow users to do things like check the weather, make phone calls, and capture photographs. Apple‘s product could be similar in functionality. The glasses may be Apple‘s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.

Google Glass was highly criticized because of privacy concerns, and as a result, it never really caught on with consumers. Google eventually stopped developing Google Glass in January of 2015. It is not clear how Apple would overcome the privacy and safety issues that Google faced, nor if the project will progress, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed Apple‘s deep interest in augmented reality multiple times over the last few months, suggesting something big is in the works.

Past rumors have also indicated Apple is exploring a number of virtual and augmented reality projects, including a full VR headset. Apple has a full team dedicated to AR and VR research and how the technologies can be incorporated into future Apple products. Cook recently said that he believes augmented reality would be more useful and interesting to people than virtual reality.

Source: http://www.macrumors.com/