Why are VR headsets so bulky?
For years, companies working on VR headsets have followed similar designs, which include a lens that magnifies an image that is placed a short distance away from it. This requires that the display and the lens be spaced away from each other, which ends up making the headsets bulky.
Experiencing the metaverse in these headsets might be great, but from the ease-of-use perspective, these headsets fail miserably. If the metaverse indeed has to become the future of the internet as it is touted to be, the mode of experience needs to be much simpler, like a pair of glasses and that’s what NVIDIA plans to do.
How did NVIDIA manage to do this?
NVIDIA’s solution is a concept called pancake lenses. While the company cannot take credit for coming up with this concept initially, it has managed to get them to work with three-dimensional (3D) images.
It might be strange to believe that previous attempts to use pancake lenses by other research groups only managed to get them to work with two-dimensional (2D) images. A few years ago, these were massive achievements, but considering the promise of immersive experiences that VR tech has thrown around repeatedly, anything below 3D is purely unacceptable these days.
NVIDIA and its collaborative team of researchers from Standford managed to do this while also reducing the distance between the lens and the display. To achieve the latter, the researchers used a “phase-only spatial light modulator (SLM)” which is lit by a coherent light source and “creates a small image behind the device”, the researcher says in their recently published paper.