ClairA Swiss startup developing augmented reality glasses has announced a breakthrough in “light field” technology that can dramatically improve AR vision.
The Lausanne, Switzerland-based company has announced an innovative AR display technology stack. The stack will be able to be integrated into other products and is expected to be commercially available by early 2024. Creal’s CEO Tomas Sluka said in his interview with GamesBeat that the technology makes wearing his AR glasses more comfortable, reducing eye strain, fatigue, and nausea.
“Augmented reality should be the next communication interface. The logic is simple: It’s more natural to look at digital information the same way you look at reality,” Sulka said. “So the only thing holding it back is that it’s not easy to do. And number one, it should be natural.”
This patent-protected solution enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) to develop augmented reality (AR) glasses that provide users with accurate depth perception.
“It took us five years to get our initial idea to actually work on a device,” Sluka says. “So this is no longer science fiction. Many people still think of this holographic image as unrealistic science fiction. But it is.”
Unlike traditional flat displays on the market, Creal’s light field-based content provides a so-called authentic visual experience with realistic depth, even when viewed with one eye.
“Today, 3D is incomplete. If you try a commercially available 3D headset, you’ll see it in 3D, but you’ll actually see a flat image. This is a big problem because… Because it ignores the fact that even one eye perceives depth through focus and other cues. Therefore, our eyes can only focus on your hand, or the bird on display. That means you can’t see them. When you try to focus on your hands, all the fat gets blurry. And if you can’t see what’s on the display, the display basically won’t work. plug.”
Depth can be corrected by reflecting the behavior of light in the real world. Humans can do this change of focus naturally with their eyes.
“We built our optical engine using proven technology that fits perfectly into today’s manufacturing ecosystem,” said Sluka. “We know that for most people, glasses are part of everyday life. That’s why we made the engine compatible with classic prescription lenses.”
The important thing is to get the focus right.
“I would like to emphasize that what we are presenting is not just a display that others can use; it is a display with a new level of quality,” Sulka said. “Focus is a revolution in displays because all previous displays have been flat. And AR and VR promise to display his 3D content. But without that focus, it won’t be complete. .”
The company was founded in 2017 by Sluka and Alexander Kvasov to research light field technology. Creal is part of Switzerland’s innovation hub. The company consists of a technical team comprised of experts from prestigious institutions such as CERN, EPFL, Intel, and Magic Leap.
“For me, it was a mission that started 10 years ago,” Sulka said. “It actually comes from my personal pain with VR from 2012 to his circa 2014,” he said. I’m very sensitive to vergence adjustment conflicts. That is the main cause of unpleasant feelings. And for the last 10 years, no product has offered a complete solution. And we were working on that with Intel AR Products and a very talented team at Magic Leap. ”
They chose the name Creal because it’s a play on the human sense of seeing the real thing.
Creal has developed technology and regularly shares engineering updates with its customers. The company has secured $18 million in total funding to date and has a global team of 30 people. Investors include Swisscom Ventures, Verve Ventures and DAA Capital Partners. Creal is currently preparing to launch a new funding round to raise money from interested investors around the world.
The company has spent six years developing AR light field microdisplay technology that combines licensable hardware and software. Unlike existing 3D displays that display two flat-screen images for each eye, Creal’s light field technology reproduces light rays as they exist in the real world, resulting in highly immersive displays with authentic depth. Get the highest quality images.
How to use
In physics terms, a light field is a description of how light exists and functions in the real world. In engineering terms, this is a technical approximation of AR and other field-of-view technologies.
Primarily, light fields provide a 3D image, which is different from the image provided by a standard flat display. CREAL’s LightField is a particularly high quality and efficient version of LightField that provides 3D images with real-world depth of focus.
The core of Creal’s lightfield technology lies in the use of combiners that eliminate the need for waveguides and thin holographic films that can be easily applied to standard or prescription lenses.
This display addresses sources of discomfort such as eye strain, fatigue, and nausea commonly associated with current AR and VR headsets. The company says several major ODM companies for AR glasses and headsets have expressed interest in evaluating Creal’s technology for future designs.
One of the significant challenges faced by existing AR headsets is their inability to seamlessly display close-up content, resulting in phenomena known as “convergence accommodation conflict” and focus conflict. Creal said its solution overcomes these issues and allows users to watch AR content up close, mimicking real-world viewing experiences. By harnessing the human eye’s natural ability to focus on objects within 20 centimeters, Creal’s technology provides a more natural and comfortable viewing experience.
“By enabling continuous focus from close range to infinity, tailored to the user’s perceived real-world depth, Creal offers significant trade-offs in image quality, computational requirements, and system architecture compared to competing solutions. It provides a natural and healthy visual experience without any off-sets,” said Sulka.
If the display can move its focal length and both eyes can focus on a bird at a given distance. That focal length can change depending on our eyes, but it should also change with AR glasses. If the image is not clear, the eyes are focused at the wrong distance, resulting in seasickness.
“When you have conflicting input, your brain preemptively assumes your position and makes you feel worse,” Sulka says. “I am one of the 15% who cannot cope with this problem. And most people feel nervous within 20 minutes. The consequences are worse than wearing someone else’s glasses.”
Other headset manufacturers have tried various methods to solve viewing distance issues, but flat displays don’t work.
“You need to create realistic images that focus on true depth,” he said. “And this is what we’re doing. We’re using a completely different type of display system than any other display system that we know of. Basically, as a projector, it’s better than a traditional display. It’s 100 times faster, and it uses that speed to give each eye a different perspective of the 3D scene, sort of like stereo for one eye, and of course the second eye as well. As a result, the image has volume and you can choose where to focus.”
This technology has a fast frame rate, which is displayed to the eye at 8 kilohertz, or 8,000 frames per second. Content is generated at 240 hertz.
You can see some applications in the images in this story. The surgeon can see the image through the glasses and see what to do. You can check this without having to go look at a book or another display. Once you know how to fix something, training will be easier. And games and interactive entertainment become even more enjoyable if you can watch without blurring.
Also, you don’t need to wear prescription glasses while playing with a VR headset. This is because some glasses may hit your face.
“When you play a game in VR, you have two choices,” Sluka says. “You either have to buy glasses to match the headset, which is expensive, or you take them off and you can’t see everything.”
According to Sulka, correct focus is important for a mature and comfortable visual experience.
“You can’t get right with almost any product on the market today. Without proper focus, you’ll see inconsistencies, feel eye strain and feel nauseous. That’s not what you want. It’s not. It’s an unpleasant and potentially unhealthy experience,” Sulka said.
The industry has known this problem for some time, but no solution has been found.
“The vision is that this will be a display that everyone uses every day for everything from cooking to brain surgery,” he said. “This technology will evolve, and it’s not as far away as many people think.”
“All of these components will be scaled down in the next version,” he said, holding glasses with slightly bulky side frames.
For mass production, consumer quantities can cost about $100 to $200, he said.
One of the first uses will be in providing vision care. It helps people see things better. It can also be used for training and entertainment. It also makes the content on the digital display much easier to read when looking at it through AR glasses.
Will the weight and dimensions of the glasses be the same as regular glasses?
Sluka said the limiting factor is the image processing electronics, which must be mounted on a system-on-a-chip (a relatively powerful computer with all processing needs on one chip). That may require the talent of a veteran chip or hardware manufacturer, and that may take time.
“This is full-fledged 3D,” Sulka said. “So far, the graphics are of smartwatch quality. People want smartphone quality, and I think what we have is on par with a tablet.”
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