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Demo of Prototype Virtual Retinal Head Mounted Display

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the could-use-a-few-lasers dept.

Displays 93

muterobert writes with an article about a new head mounted virtual retinal display (technology last covered ages ago). The folks over at Road to VR took a look at an engineering prototype; from the article: "The Avegant HMD uses a virtual retinal projection display consisting of a single LED light source and an array of micro-mirrors. This differs from normal screens in that with a VRD there is no actual screen to look at. Instead, a virtual image (in the optical sense) is drawn directly onto your retina. . ... 'At one point I was looking at a sea turtle in shallow coral waters. Sunlight was beaming down from the surface and illuminating the turtle's shell in a spectacular way — it was one of the most vivid and natural things I've ever seen on any display. The scene before me looked incredibly real, even though the field of view is not at immersive levels.'"

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Can I get it with the optional Shark upgrade? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413709)

Lasers!

Re:Can I get it with the optional Shark upgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414227)

Do not look into Avegant HMD with remaining eye

pretty epic (4, Insightful)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#45413795)

i think this might completely overwhelm the occulus rift. the fact that it can be adjusted to your eyesight is pretty awesome as well.

Re:pretty epic (1)

Isarian (929683) | about a year ago | (#45413915)

I don't think it'll overwhelm the OR, they're not directly competing technologies. As stated OR is for creating immersive worlds with high FOV, and Avegant is for consuming standard media.

Re:pretty epic (3, Interesting)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#45414203)

the avegant technology could easily be scaled to a high FoV... the guy said that in the interview. also, being how it is, it would be a much more immersive technology than the rift. eventually they WILL directly compete.

Re:pretty epic (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about a year ago | (#45417567)

I have to agree. They will be competitors and it looks like right now, taken at face value, Avegant could win.

Oculus (at least in public) keeps pushing away from consoles while Avegant is wanting to be neutral and work on any media source. They were demonstrating it on a PS3. That's a huge product volume right there.

With projecting on the retina, people who need glasses don't need them. Oculus has to accommodate and allow space for them in their design.

Oculus is directly dependent on available screen resolutions and form factors to be able to take their product to production. It looks like Avegant is only dependent on a multimirror chip which is already available at 1920x1080 resolution (if they use the TI chips). (http://www.ti.com/lsds/ti/analog/dlp/overview.page)

Oculus has been selling development kits to the community which will no doubt make some think twice about ordering the actual production unit, increased resolution or no.

And as you and others noted, the Avegant technology can go wide FOV with no fill factor / screen door issues, presumably a lighter display because no thick and heavy highly-curved optics, and no (relatively speaking) big glass displays and illuminators / fiber optic sheets out in front.

Much of this could change if Oculus is developing curved OLED panels that minimize the weight, optics, remove extra illumination, etc, but it still won't help with fill factor, screen door, etc.

Lots of other unknowns though, but the Avegant sounds very, very enticing and poised to be a game changer.

Drawing images directly on the retina. That's very cool.

Re:pretty epic (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#45418125)

plus it is much closer to true virtual reality that we are looking for. anyone can mount a screen on your head, but not many ppl can put a screen directly in your mind.

Re:pretty epic (1)

Zerth (26112) | about a year ago | (#45414701)

They are a bit late to the party. The CastAR kickstarter [kickstarter.com] is finishing tomorrow and will be shipping next year, a few months before the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.

Re:pretty epic (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about a year ago | (#45417597)

Totally different. Anyone using the CastAR has to hang up or lay down a reflective screen for it to work. Different markets and different applications.

Re:pretty epic (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year ago | (#45418943)

You didn't catch the part where you can attach a "screen" directly to the goggles to achieve VR.

Re:pretty epic (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45416697)

I was thinking about this. Surely the Occulus Rift has lenses, because your eye has a tough time accommodating to objects very near by. The Wikipedia page states that the OR "development kit also includes interchangeable lenses that will allow for simple dioptric correction." So if it does involve lenses then isn't working the same way as this new device? i.e. you could call the OR a "retinal head mounted display", because it contains optics that project an image of the display onto your retina. Thus, the difference would seem to be that the new device uses a reflection-based display and is based on DLP principles whereas the Rift uses a conventional RGB LCD.

Re:pretty epic (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#45417287)

the difference is that this has no display, it sends light directly to your eyes. the OR has a screen. projected onto the screen is whatever is in the game. your eyes then see the screen and project it onto the retina. this completely cuts out the screen. because it cuts out the screen, your eyes do not get strained from seeing bright lights in close proximity to your eyes, but instead you 'see' the image as it is coming out of the game.

Re:pretty epic (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45417509)

the difference is that this has no display, it sends light directly to your eyes. the OR has a screen. projected onto the screen is whatever is in the game. your eyes then see the screen and project it onto the retina. this completely cuts out the screen. because it cuts out the screen, your eyes do not get strained from seeing bright lights in close proximity to your eyes, but instead you 'see' the image as it is coming out of the game.

But that's not true: it *does* have a screen. The screen is composed of the micro-mirror array and the RGB LED that illuminates it. That's the equivalent of a screen: if you look at one of those you will see an image. This new device forms an image of the mirror array on your retina. The OR, if I understand how it works, forms an image of an LCD display on your retina. So what's the difference? In one case you're using reflected light and in other transmitted. But in both cases you're projecting a nearby display surface onto the retina.

Re:pretty epic (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#45418165)

thats like saying that everything in reality is an led screen because it is reflecting light into your eyes... the thing is, with this technology, they could send whatever light they want to send to your retina, it doesnt have to be a screen... it doesnt even have to be rectangular. they could even put a camera on it and send a modified real world image to your eyes for AR games.

Re:pretty epic (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45418257)

thats like saying that everything in reality is an led screen because it is reflecting light into your eyes... the thing is, with this technology, they could send whatever light they want to send to your retina, it doesnt have to be a screen... it doesnt even have to be rectangular. they could even put a camera on it and send a modified real world image to your eyes for AR games.

I think we're talking cross-purposes. LED displays have the illumination behind it and works by gating transmission (not reflecting). The DLP chip, on the other hand, is a small screen that works by reflection. Here is how: http://www.dlp.com/technology/how-dlp-works/ [dlp.com] It is, by every definition of the word, a screen. The main difference between the chip and an LCD display is that the DLP chip needs to be projected onto a surface in order to be useful. Otherwise, it meets the definition of a screen. I don't know what you mean by it not having to be rectangular. I'm not pulling this stuff out my ass, I've integrated DLP chips into a microscope optical train and I know how they work.

VirtualBoy is growing up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413803)

Hopefully they have solved the issue of the light either being too dark to see clearly or bright enough to feel pain on your retina. If these have focus controls, I would like a pair of the opaque-shades style tuned to my prescription.

Re:VirtualBoy is growing up (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45414779)

> bright enough to feel pain on your retina

Technically you don't. Your brain reacts to overwhelming brightness data, but if I take a laser outside of the visual range, I can burn penises on your retina without you even feeling it.

Do want... (4, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45413807)

I've avoided "monitors on eyeglasses" for a while, feeling the technology still a bit weak, but damn am I ready to just turn on my direct-to-eye virtual system.

We're turning the corner, kids. I can't wait to see what's down the block.

Re:Do want... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45413897)

We're turning the corner, kids. I can't wait to see what's down the block.

Assuming, of course, you can still see. ;-)

It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414077)

It's the micromirror device. Duh. There is no fundamental optical difference between this, Google Glass, and Oculus Rift. The only differences are the size of the physical component that is the screen (very small in the case of Glass, medium in this case, much larger in the case of Oculus Rift) and the optics used for the light path (from trivial in the Rift to more complex in this case and in Glass) and thus also the apparent size of the screen to the wearer.

Retinal "projection" is just a fancy term for "making it look to your eye like there's a screen in front of it". There's no magic. Even with a scanning laser-based retinal projection system, where there is no physical screen (but a scanned laser creates a virtual plane that acts like one) you still need to cover the eye in a big lens and make the light seem to come from the same places it would come if there were a big screen in front of it. It's impossible to "project into your retina" from an angle and make the image appear to cover other parts of your vision that do not intersect with the projection system, because your eye's lens (like any other lens) is designed to not allow this to happen.

It's cool that we have different approaches to VR competing with each other, but let's not let the marketing folks get away with hand-wavey BS claims.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45414419)

Not sure what your beef is, soldier.

It has 2 million micromirrors. Also, though this is in your sense a "screen" -- kind of -- your eye is not trying to focus on a thing a couple of inches in front of it -- the light can, apparently, seem as if it is coming from way otout there, hence little or no extra muscle strain trying to adjust your eyeball's roundness for extra close objects.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45414489)

It now occurs to me your sense of depth perception might have two components: the normal binocular part, and a supplementary muscle feedback from the single-eye adjustments for distance.

Hence this would be a much superior experience to dual LCDs, which would drive conflict in your depth sensations -- binocular telling you it's way out there, eye muscle strain telling you it's right in your face.

Assuming, of course, their device really compensates for that by duplicating rays as if from way out there.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414915)

Depth perception has many components: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_perception

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about a year ago | (#45416037)

The uplifting thought is that a personalization feature could eliminate glasses while using this tech. One wonders if direct retina connection could follow soon using the concentration of this virtual image into a comprised pulse set. Sure, cure blindness, but also artificially correct the huge portion of the population with color deficiencies.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#45419017)

Fascinating idea you have there....mind if I play with it?

What if you could, while doing your color correction, also add other functions as well: lens focus corrections, strabismus correction, etc.?

Eliminate the need for corrective lenses, mitigating 'colour blindness', the ability to project useful overlays (maps and similar), and still be able to be plugged into your media device as per the stated use FTFA.
*nerdgasm!* That would be awesomely cool, IMHO!

The tech involved in all of this subject is way out of any fields of expertise or knowledge I have, so I don't know if any of it is feasible, but I can hope it will come to pass.

The uplifting thought...

Uplifting indeed! Thanks for that. :-)

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

Carnildo (712617) | about a year ago | (#45417845)

Depth perception [wikipedia.org] has over a dozen components, of which stereopsis (your "normal binocular part") is one of the weaker. People have trouble with 3D in movie theaters (and will probably have trouble with the Oculus Rift) because two of the stronger components (accommodation and convergence) are giving very different depth signals from stereopsis. This technology has the potential to be accommodation- and convergence-neutral, meaning the strongest depth signal comes from stereopsis.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45415919)

The Oculus Rift makes the light seem to come from infinity too. That's just optics. Your eyes are focused at infinity with the Rift, even though the screen is just a few centimeters from your face. That's what the lenses do - otherwise you wouldn't need them (except nobody can focus their eyes at 3cm). Glass, meanwhile, is designed to present a virtual screen 2.5m away from the viewer. This is, again, just optics. Given appropriate optics, you can make any screen, large or small, appear like any other screen, large or small, at any distance (with varying engineering tradeoffs), as long as the optics physically cover the solid angle range matching the target desired screen appearance.

Again, this is just a different screen technology with a matching set of optics to go with it. There is absolutely no fundamental difference between this and other existing VR technologies as far as what it appears like to the eye or how the image is projected.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45415989)

There is absolutely no fundamental difference between this and other existing VR technologies as far as what it appears like to the eye or how the image is projected.

Yeah, this it so totally lame.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (0)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about a year ago | (#45417637)

No screen, bucky. The image gets drawn on your retina.

Re:It's not "direct-to-eye" - There's a screen. (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45415973)

Retinal "projection" is just a fancy term for "making it look to your eye like there's a screen in front of it". There's no magic.

Just projecting images into my eyeball that (in time) will be indistinguishable from actual sight?

Sounds pretty goddamned magic to me.

Re:Do want... (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#45417107)

Dead pixels on your retina when the mirror mechanism stalls and causes burnout....

It will be madatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45423652)

I've avoided "monitors on eyeglasses" for a while, feeling the technology still a bit weak, but damn am I ready to just turn on my direct-to-eye virtual system.

We're turning the corner, kids. I can't wait to see what's down the block.

Pardon me for being cynical, but what if what's down the block is that these become mandatory and always-on? Naturally enough the authorities will have overrides...

"No Citizen, those five officers are not beating the crap out of that $UNPOPULAR_MINORITY person over there. Look again - see, they are all handing him kittens..."

I'm not saying the tech will be in place tomorrow, but progress is fast and how many politicians can you think of who wouldn't use it, given the power?

Retina burn (1)

tttonyyy (726776) | about a year ago | (#45413817)

Less deeply cool if the mirror control software locks up and you burn a line/spot into your retina.

Trying, plasma TV style, to run noise/wipes material through it to reduce retina burn-in would not be fun.

On the other hand, nice to see another step towards the Snow Crash universe. Just need a depleted uranium hypervelocity railgun and people will finally start listening to Reason.

Re:Retina burn (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#45414087)

Interesting name for a gun, Reason...

Re:Retina burn (3, Informative)

baKanale (830108) | about a year ago | (#45414241)

Well, you could always blink, or just close your eyes.

Re:Retina burn (1)

FunkDup (995643) | about a year ago | (#45418807)

Well, you could always blink, or just close your eyes.

Screen Savers!

Re:Retina burn (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#45414251)

great, so now I'll have the following burned into my retina:

possible response:
yes/no
or what?
go away
please come back later
fuck you, asshole

Re:Retina burn (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year ago | (#45414627)

While the video offers lots of BS, the possibility of retinal burn is probably zero:
1) They use an LED, not a laser diode.
2) The light from the LED is spread over a DMD (digital micro-mirror device); it is not a line/dot.
I'd imagine the worst that you'd see if something locked up is a solid color virtual screen.

Re:Retina burn (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45414723)

Less deeply cool if the mirror control software locks up and you burn a line/spot into your retina.

There won't be enough light to do that. It's a low power LED not a laser. Even if it was powered by a laser, though, the display locking up couldn't lead to eye problems: it's not raster scanning, so the light from the source is spread over the whole mirror array. The device projects the micromirror array onto your retina, so a locked display would simply produce a static image and the position of the image on the retina would change when you move your eye.

Re:Retina burn (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45417167)

There are laser systems out there (AFAIK only for military applications) - see Microvision Systems. I don't think they use micromirrors, rather they use a single scanning mirror, but I don't know for sure. I'm not sure how the micromirrors are used - is each one fixed, and the laser scanning across? That's basically a fancy Fresnel lens. Or is each micromirror used as a shutter, analogous to the LightValve projectors? In that case the laser output is first expanded via a lens, so the maximum product of light * time is fixed and there are no high density time-dependent pulse as below.

Using a point-output laser and a scanning mirror (analogous to how a laser printer works), I think there may still be a potential problem. If scanning a laser across your retina, an individual retina cell only receives light for a tiny fraction of the frame time - say 1/960000 of the total frame time for 1200x800 pixels. So the brightness has to be high enough to provide a sufficient amount of energy for that cell to perceive the proper level of illumination. If the laser were to stop moving, then that same brightness might be hundreds or thousands of times too bright for continuous (even for one full frame time) use, and could cause damage.

By way of analogy, if the sun suddenly comes out from behind a tree or cloud, your eye reflexively closes the iris, and you reflexively close your eye and/or turn away. The short duration of that brightness doesn't cause significant damage. But if you continue to look at the sun and don't close your eye or turn away, you'll fry your retina.

Re:Retina burn (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45417437)

I'm not sure how the micromirrors are used - is each one fixed, and the laser scanning across?

It's this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Light_Processing [wikipedia.org] As you say: expand beam via a lens or two to fill the mirror array then project the array onto your surface of choice with another lens. Scanning across the retina sounds like a non-starter, pointless, and dangerous. For what it's worth: I've built a microscope which works via a pair of scan mirrors (galvanometer-based) and a dangerous IR laser. I generally operate it at 256x256 and get frame rates of 5 to 6 FPS. You can get up to about 40 FPS with resonant scanners, but those make a nasty noise.

Re:Retina burn (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45420229)

My brother worked for MicroVision Systems back in the 1990s - I'm almost certain they were scanning one (monochrome) or three (RGB) laser diodes. These were for head-up displays on some military flight hardware - $400K each. I think DLPs were not technically capable at that time. The product was based on work done at U Washington (IIRC) in the late 1980s, about the same time as DLPs were being developed. I'm too lazy to find out what they were using back then though, so I could be way off.

Re:Retina burn (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45420239)

Followup: from This [microvision.com] it appears that MVS is now (always was?) using a MEMS scanner - basically a DLP. So I think I'll stand corrected. :) But this also makes me wonder if the topic of this thread is going to have to deal with the MVS patent portfolio.

Re:Retina burn (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45420253)

No, I take it back. MVS is definitely scanning the lasers. The output of the three laser diodes is modulated, then merged into one beam, then run through the MEMS scanner. So the beam is scanned across the retina.

Re:Retina burn (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45421759)

Pretty cool. I had no idea such a thing existed. Thanks for the links.

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45413837)

Instead, a virtual image (in the optical sense) is drawn directly onto your retina

Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that?

Well, someone else can try that technology. Once it's been in use for a decade or so I might think about it.

In the meantime, I am not willing to be the guinea pig for something like this. I've no interest in going blind for the latest shiny toy.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

liamevo (1358257) | about a year ago | (#45413965)

Images are drawn onto your retina every waking second of your life.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45414049)

Images are drawn onto your retina every waking second of your life.

No, images arrive at our retina through means the human body has been using for thousands of years.

Having a piece of technology draw it directly onto your retina is different. And anybody who has ever seen screen burn-in on a monitor will know why it's different.

Maybe, in the future when this is well tested and proven (not assumed) to pose no risks. But in the mean time, I'm not letting someone's science experiment attempt to directly draw onto my retina.

But, hey, if you want to strap this to your head and be among the first generation of people to use it and learn the long-term implications ... well, you run wild with that and let us know how it works out.

That's a choice you get to make. But I've already made mine. My initial assumption is this needs a lot of testing (by other people) before I'm even willing to consider it. In the mean time, it won't be me wearing one of these.

Actually... (1)

Junta (36770) | about a year ago | (#45414247)

Basically, they are shining three LEDs at you and moving where the light from those LEDs land. Ostensibly, laser is supposed to be usable safely in this sort of application as well, but this company steered away from even that.

So this isn't pointing something that is even particularly high powered or coherent at your retina, mostly just sidestepping the screendoor effect because the light path is being manipulated in a manner that isn't as discrete as an array of OLEDs accomplishing the same thing (the latter being easier since the LED state doesn't need to change nearly as fast with OLED or LCD as it would in a system scanning the retina with similar light source.

Still, not my cup of tea yet as the FOV isn't ambitious, and I think FOV is more key than eliminating the inter-pixel gaps (and in fact if mobile device industry continues their one-upmanship, a 7-inch 4k display might be viable and not matter much anyway).

Re:Actually... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#45414373)

They're not moving where the light lands. They're shining fixed coloured LEDs at a DLP chip, which is reflecting the light into your eye. This is basically just a microprojector shining into your eye. Instead of a colour wheel, they alternate between each coloured LED.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45414303)

It sounds to me like you're worried that the developers understand the technology as little as you do.

No, images arrive at our retina through means the human body has been using for thousands of years.

Having a piece of technology draw it directly onto your retina is different. And anybody who has ever seen screen burn-in on a monitor will know why it's different.

It's no different at all though. In everyday natural means, light passes through the eyeball to arrive at the retina. In this display, it also passes through the eyeball to arrive at the retina. Naturally, our pupils adjust to allow a comfortable amount of light through. That doesn't change here, either - the pupil can still adjust to suit the viewer's preference.

If too much natural light gets through the pupil, we instinctively blink or squint to avoid burning. That only fails when the viewer intentionally keeps their eyes open (such as kids staring at the sun), when too much energy gets through in the time it takes to execute the blink (such as powerful lasers), or when the energy being absorbed is outside the range of human perception (IR or UV damage).

Fortunately, we actually have a pretty good idea of how much energy is required to burn the retina, and we can easily make LEDs that stay under that threshold. Since the wavelength of an LED is uniform, there's very little risk of any IR or UV damage, as well.

The biggest hazard to this thing is that some idiot might try to wear it while walking, and be hit by a car. That proves that walking is horribly dangerous compared to safer alternatives like being inside the car, even though feet are the locomotive means the human body has been using for thousands of years.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45414437)

Hey, like I said ... you want it, run wild.

I don't want it, and I don't as yet see any reason to take on faith the claims that, in theory, it's perfectly safe.

My eyes, however, will not be the ones to prove that assertion. What you do with your eyes is your problem.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year ago | (#45416177)

...I don't as yet see any reason to take on faith the claims that, in theory, it's perfectly safe.

Science: It works, bitches.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

mmell (832646) | about a year ago | (#45415807)

Just remember - if I brought 60Hz 110V electrical delivery to our government for approval as a new technology, I doubt very seriously that anybody on Earth would ever see so much as an electric socket or light switch installed within the next twenty years (if ever). I mean, that stuff's dangerous. What guarantee is there that it won't leak out of the walls and start electrocuting elephants?

Don't even get me started on aspirin. Herr Bayer wouldn't even have a starter on his hands there.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

jcochran (309950) | about a year ago | (#45416861)

Indeed. And in fact, most people are using a technology right now that if it were to be introduced for the first time in today's safety climate would be rejected due to bad design and safety issues. That technology being the common light bulb socket. Think about it. Bare metal contacts that can be easily touched. If the bulb breaks, removal of the base being a hazardous activity (even more so if the power is left on). And in fact, the polarized two prong plugs and outlets you now find were developed as a means of attempting to render the light socket safer (when properly wired, the polarized plugs and sockets will arrange for the screw to be at ground instead of being 'hot'.)

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45417241)

Not to mention those ubiquitous four-wheeled vehicles that burn extremely flammable and poisonous petrochemicals, and move at speeds several times as fast as the fastest animal alive - and are built using materials refined in mile-long fiery furnaces or cooked out of more petrochemicals! Did you know that the of intelligence to momentum of that vehicle plus its herder is lower than almost any animal?

When these vehicles were first introduced, laws in some places required they be preceded by a person carrying a flag, to warn oncoming horse and buggy traffic of the fire-snorting beast. Perhaps we should have kept that law in place!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45417419)

It's no different at all though. In everyday natural means, light passes through the eyeball to arrive at the retina. In this display, it also passes through the eyeball to arrive at the retina. Naturally, our pupils adjust to allow a comfortable amount of light through. That doesn't change here, either - the pupil can still adjust to suit the viewer's preference.

Are you sure about one's pupils being able to adjust with a display like this? This is speculation, but I would expect the light from this device enters the eye from a fairly small arc. The eye's pupil works with the effect of narrowing the incoming arc of light. If so, then one's pupils wouldn't have any effect with the light from this device. I suspect this device would benefit (possibly grearly) from being able to track the pupils, this would tell it whether the light level is appropriate as well as being able to tell it where the eyes were pointed.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414455)

Why is there no "clueless, paranoid, and arrogant" mod for posts like the above?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414515)

Normal monitors generate light and the eye picks it up when the light passes through the lens and focuses on the retina.
This headset is still generating light and passing it through the lens to land on the retina as well so it isn't like it is somehow bypassing the protective structure of your body or something.
Really the difference is there isn't something generating the image on something big and physical like a screen.
It's more like a projector with your eye being the screen the image is being projected on.
[A small image is projected and redirected via mirrors. It appears bigger via lenses focusing on a projection point, a screen, for viewing.]

The light is generated by a low power LED, not a high power laser, so it's not going to hurt your eye any more than normal light will.
If it does hurt your eye it will be similar to looking at a bright light and cause you to blink, squint, or close your eye.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45414867)

Images are drawn onto your retina every waking second of your life.

No, images arrive at our retina through means the human body has been using for thousands of years.

No, the poster you're responding to was correct. As far as your eye is concerned this is optically identical to normal visual conditions. If it wasn't, you wouldn't be able to see an image with this device.

"Images" do not "arrive" at your retina as you say. Instead, mostly parallel light rays from a surface/object arrives at the lens and, if the conditions are correct, an image is formed onto the retina. All this device is doing is projecting a micro-mirror array onto your retina. So long as the light levels aren't dangerous, there's no problem. In fact, the whole experience is just like using a telescope or a microscope.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45415083)

As far as your eye is concerned this is optically identical to normal visual conditions

Fine. You buy one. You wear it several hours per day for several years. You be the one to find out if what they're saying is true, or if there are defects in the technology.

Me, I tend to distrust the "oh, it's perfectly safe until we see evidence to the contrary" type things.

You can say all you want it's safe. But until I see long-term usage studies, I'm going on the assumption that taking the word of the one who stands to make the money from it is a stupid idea. Of course the guy selling it is going to say it's safe, but that doesn't make it true. I don't trust software salesmen either.

How often has big pharma come out with something and said it's "perfectly safe", only to find out a few years down the road it's anything but, and they ignored the evidence which showed that it wasn't?

Often enough to make me think "do I really need an image beamed to my retina because it sounds cool, or can I just skip the whole thing until we've actually got some evidence?" Since I have no pressing need for this device, I'm not losing out on anything by deciding not to be an early adopter of it.

So long as the light levels aren't dangerous, there's no problem

Well, I'm glad that you have implicit faith in technology. I have far less faith and trust, especially where my vision is concerned.

You, however, can stick whatever you like in your eyes, run with scissors, or choose not to wear your seat belt if you so choose. Doesn't make any difference to me.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45415319)

I absolutely get and share your distrust of big pharma, but I think this case is different. Notice I'm not saying the display is safe because the manufacturer said so. In fact, I didn't notice anything regarding safety in the article (although I didn't read the whole thing). I'm not taking anything on faith from the manufacturer, I'm saying it's safe based on first principles and basic optics.

Optically this is essentially the same as normal vision or using a telescope or a microscope. The device likely uses a couple of lenses to illuminate the mirror array with the LED, then one more lens that, in concert with your eye's lens, projects the mirror array onto your retina. In other words, that last lens does exactly what the eyepiece of a telescope or microscope does. It's literally the same thing. It's really simple optics with no weird tricks. Nothing is being "beamed" or weird "cool" stuff being done. So since I'm happy to use a microscope and telescope, I'm happy to use this. I have to be, because they're the same thing. Like I say, the only possible acute danger is if the lighting levels are dangerously high. But that's not possible in this case because it doesn't use a laser and light source is illuminating a mirror array, not being focused onto your retina.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Reapy (688651) | about a year ago | (#45415289)

Stop trying to speak sense to the technophobe. Them thar LAZER BEAMS FROM TEH SCARRRY MACHINE IS GOWNA BLOW MY EYEBALLS UP! He is probably out telling someone to get off his lawn anyway.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about a year ago | (#45416287)

We drive cars with explosive-level gasoline stored just waiting for some idiot to decide that NOW is the perfect time to cause a 20+ car pile-up. Statistically around 100% more people killed by car accidents than murders every year. I guess light levels don't look so dangerous.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about a year ago | (#45414319)

Don't worry. You have already lost much more eyesight due to the small-factor car headlights you cross every night.
Fashion says headlights should be smaller, because this is nicer. So, the same amount of light gets out from a twice or four times smaller area.
Mind you, this same energy also lands on a four times smaller area on your retina.
You are already burnt, just because nobody thought about headlight size (there are laws on the total power, but not on the surface).
See, you don't need ultramodern retina head mounts...

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#45415257)

That's nothing. Try being behind modern sedans while driving in a high-seat vehicle like an SUV. Those curved rear windows at 45 degree or shallower angles are able to reflect the summer sun (and there's a lot of it in Texas in the summer), mostly when going southbound or toward the sun. Sure, it's not quite as bright as looking directly into the sun, but it's still a real pain.

Even someone leaving his brights on at night isn't that bad, because he's coming from the other direction and will pass you very soon, while you could be stuck behind that beige shitbox for miles, and there's usually another right in front of it even if you pass.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

LunaticTippy (872397) | about a year ago | (#45415813)

If it bugs you that much you should invest in a pair of polarized sunglasses. They are perfect for reducing the glare you describe. They also reduce the glare from water quite well.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#45498055)

I'm going to guess that you don't wear glasses, or you would unserstand that for those of us who do, it's either crappy clip-ons or expensive prescription sunglasses.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | about a year ago | (#45515167)

I do wear glasses. I'm a cheap bastard so I generally buy from a place that sells an eye exam, regular glasses, and sunglasses for $99 if you can live with the frames they offer. If you pick nicer frames the price goes up, I usually get out of there for $150. I bought a pair of prescription polarized sunglasses years ago for $200 and I still use them, I treat them tenderly always keeping them in a hard case when I'm not wearing them. When I'm staring into bright water or road having an out of date prescription isn't very noticeable.

For swimming, I buy "off the shelf" prescription goggles for $20. They don't match my eyes perfectly, but at least I can walk around without banging into anything and I don't crash into stuff in the water. My eyes require different strength lenses, so I buy 2 pair and cannibalize them to make 2 custom pair that sorta fit my eyes.

If you have a current prescription you can shop online, there are some good deals out there.

If bright glare bothers you, do yourself a favor and invest in the polarized lenses. I've got pretty sensitive eyes and it's been totally worth it for me.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45417953)

Good. Get an normal vehicle. When I commuted on IH35, I was regularly blinded by some asshole in a jacked up truck behind me.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45414683)

This thing doesn't use a single beam; this is not at all like building an image with a laser at very high intensity to compensate for scanning over a large area. This is like a DLP projector, using many beams that are either on or off. So: the light source will be of relatively low intensity, and it's not like a malfunction (or even a hack) is going to steer all beams onto the same spot in your eye, burning a hole.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45417179)

A system much like this has been in use in military applications since the mid-1990s - see Micro Vision Systems. I don't recall if they use micromirrors but I think not.

Rotten fruit alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413867)

Summary contains the word 'Retina' as a substring. Expect aPPLE to begin legal action.

Re:Rotten fruit alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45420517)

Indeed, everyone now knows that retina display means "medium resolution screen", rather than a display that projects onto the retina.

...ohh the evil posibilities. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413899)

....I hope that nobody can remotely-project commercial ads to my eyes on the street.

Re:...ohh the evil posibilities. (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45414307)

They'll do it with lasers so you can't unsee it.

fi8st p0st (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413953)

clear she couldn't You got t4ere. Or

Pay-for-play PR nonsense (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45413969)

Head worn video systems have frequently used moving mirrors to multiplex limited numbers of light transmitters into the conventional 2D array. There is NOTHING novel in this method whatsoever.

The nonsense about "beaming an image straight into your eye" is laughable as well. This is EXACTLY what any modern back-lit LCD tablet or phone does. The eye ALWAYS sees as a result of photons travelling into the eye- so their is NOTHING magical, unique or clever about 'non-screen' devices. And what does 'screen' mean anyway. Technically, a 'screen' is a surface you reflect light off, so, as I said, most of the computer devices you look at do not have 'screens' but DIRECT light sources, no different in concept from this Avegant HMD. Indeed, since Avegant uses a mirror, it has MORE of a conventional screen than your tablet or phone.

Can you trust any company that so fundamentally LIES in its PR releases, and pays technical sites to promote the PR BS as some amazing breakthrough?

The issue with head mounted images is always the same. Brightness. Resolution. Refresh rate. The optical system that controls apparent virtual position, FOV, and merging with the real surrounding (if the display isn't enclosed). Then you have issues of weight, battery life or power supply etc. Then you have issues of quality of head-tracking sensors, taking into account latency and maintenance of absolute accuracy.

Tech sites that specialise in VR coverage has an ABSOLUTE incentive to praise every hopeless piece of kit that comes their way, since their lifeblood is a constant stream of review and pre-release hardware. But the truth can be found in Google Glass and Occulus Rift - clunky half-baked solutions that are still better than everything that came before them, because up to now companies specialising in LIGHT, wearable VR products have been technically terrible in every respect.

When a company focuses on buzzword BS, you can discount any possibility that their products are going to be good.

Re:Pay-for-play PR nonsense (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45414611)

most of the computer devices you look at do not have 'screens' but DIRECT light sources, no different in concept from this Avegant HMD.

The difference is that on regular screens, each pixel is an individual, diffuse light source, with that light coming from a LED belonging to that pixel. This thing steers a number of beams reflected from a single light source directly into your eye, forming the image on your retina instead of on something in front of your eye. The end result ought to be similar to what other head mounted displays do, but the optics involved are very different. One advantage is that as far as I can see there's no need for large lenses or (worse) Fresnell lenses, which often cause visible distortions to the image.

They do still have to solve some of the other issues you mention (brightness is hardly an issue in modern kits). But there's more to this tech than buzzwords; doing things this way could make for a decidedly smaller headset and produce higher quality images.

Re:Pay-for-play PR nonsense (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about a year ago | (#45415669)

What it's doing is essentially allowing you to look at a DLP chip through a series of special lenses, by making the DLP chip look like it's much larger than it really is and much further away via the optics. It's not beaming anything directly into the eye any more than the sun is "beaming" the light you see right now into your eye. It is, as another poster pointed out, much like looking into a microscope, or even looking at the world through corrective lenses.

Obilgatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414197)

Snowcrash.

I saw this on TV about 20 years ago (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about a year ago | (#45414243)

It was on some show. It was distributed as a game involving getting pink Frisbee-like objects into purple articulating horns which emanated from holes in plane which extended off into the distance. Seems like it might be quite addictive.

Re:I saw this on TV about 20 years ago (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45414271)

Bravo, sir. Well played indeed.

Re:I saw this on TV about 20 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45414891)

And it could induce an orgasm directly from the headset. Now that's technology we need to work on.

Re:I saw this on TV about 20 years ago (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#45415279)

I'm sure we'll put our top man [slashdot.org] on that right away.

Re:I saw this on TV about 20 years ago (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | about a year ago | (#45417265)

Ahh come on. No +1 funny for LoadWB's TNG reference?

Oh what a day to be lacking mod points.

Yeah, it looks like "Retinal" is misleading... (4, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#45414457)

...because this doesn't look at all like the laser retinal scanners from 10-15 years ago. And that's a good thing.

I got to try one of the laser retinal scanners at SIGGRAPH ages ago. I was pretty excited, because they promised to dodge the corrective-lenses issue -- in effect, it's as though you're stopping the eye down to a microscopic aperture, which means focus and aberration issues become arbitrarily small. The problem, though, was diffraction artifacts, and they were overwhelming -- there were big, heavily-fringed blobs at fixed positions in the image, and you couldn't make them go away.

Laser technology has come a long way since then, but it doesn't matter. As far as I know, there's nothing that technology can do to overcome this fundamental flaw.

Uses only *organic* light (2)

CityZen (464761) | about a year ago | (#45414565)

Surely you don't want any *artificial* light that those other HMDs offer.

(My BS meter was pegging out while watching that video.)

so it's a projector? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45414629)

It's not made clear in the article, but this looks identical in principle to a conventional digital projector (i.e. powerpoint and home cinema). It's a rather daft article in places; e.g. of course the device has pixels. They're just not RGB triplets. The micro-mirrors must surely be these sorts of things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_micromirror_device [wikipedia.org] which are a standard DLP part: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Light_Processing [wikipedia.org] Instead of a white screen, they're projecting onto the retina directly. It's a nice idea but I'm not clear on the benefits and the article doesn't seem to say anything concrete in this regard. There may be downsides: For one thing, the RGB cycling of the LED can lead to rainbow effects when you sacade across the display. The DLPs I'm familiar with have this, at any rate. Perhaps an RGB LED is fast enough to avoid this, though.

Re:so it's a projector? (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#45417289)

That problem is mentioned in TFA, so you are right on.

How you see, how displays work, etc. (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year ago | (#45415385)

Let's see if we can clear up a few things. Imagine looking at your monitor.

The pixel in the upper left corner is emitting a hemisphere of light. Or rather, it's emitting a bunch of rays of light that spread out in a hemisphere. Under ideal circumstances, it's the same color and intensity for any of those rays, though we know from experience that it tapers off and sometimes changes color as you see it from greater angles. But for most of the "straight on" angles, they're about the same.

A subset of that hemisphere of rays is entering one of your pupils. If you consider the shape of that subset, it forms a cone, with the base at that pixel on the monitor, and the extent formed by the circle of the pupil. All those rays of light will (assuming your eye is focused on the monitor) focus to a point on the associated retina.

The individual rays in that cone are close to, but not quite, parallel to each other. The farther away your monitor is, the more parallel they are, and the closer the monitor is to you, the more the rays are spreading out. Each eye's lens takes care of focusing the parallel or spreading out rays back to a point on its retina. Note that if the rays are spreading out too much (ie, the monitor is too close to your face), you cannot refocus the rays back to a point. You'd need additional optics to help achieve this. (This is why Oculus needs a big fat lens in front of each screen.)

For the purposes of this explanation, we'll simplify a bit and consider a bundle of rays that are parallel. Given this simplification, the only distinction between the pixels on the monitor (aside from their color and intensity) is that they arrive at your pupil from different directions.

In fact, you can replace the monitor with physical objects that are reflecting light, and the same principles apply. Going a step further, you can see that it doesn't really matter how those bundles of rays are generated; the only thing that matters is how they enter the pupil. The direction (ie, angle) that they enter from determines the location, and the color and intensity determine what you see there.

So let's take away the monitor, and instead imagine other ways that you can generate different parallel ray bundles directed at your pupil. The original "virtual retinal display" from the University of Washington was based on the following principle:
1) Generate a single collimated beam of light rays. Collimated means that all the rays within the beam are parallel (or close to it). Beam, in this case, does not mean a tiny dot, but rather a beam with some girth to it (on the order of a centimeter).
2) Use one or more tiltable mirrors to shine this beam at different angles at your pupil. By redirecting the beam in a raster-scan fashion, you can trace out a complete image.
3) For each different direction scanned (ie, each pixel), you also need to change the color and intensity of the beam appropriately (to correspond to the pixel you see from that direction).
Note that the beam has to be spread out significantly from a single point, such that when redirecting it from one extreme to other that it will still hit your pupil. Light that doesn't enter your pupil is wasted.

This is just one method. The subject of today's article appears to use a DMD array instead of one or two scanning mirrors. Assuming that the DMD mirrors can scan in a 2D fashion, then it's really the exact sample principle.

Note that there are many other ways to achieve the same ends. If you have a point light source, you could use a parabolic mirror to generate a large collimated beam. Provide some way to scan that beam, and voila. You might also note that spherical mirrors approximate a parabola, except for arbitrary directions. Provide a way to scan the light source, and voila.

As you can see, the trick is mainly in the scanning, since all the rest is "easy".

add a camera... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45416749)

Now if they could just add a camera and project the realworld image onto your eye! it would be like, like, like vision.

The Phrase (2)

k31bang (672440) | about a year ago | (#45419413)

The Phrase "shut up and take my money" was made for this technology.

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