This actuation has been subject of funding from the budget of the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad, with the file number TEC2017-83769-R
Nowadays, there is a new generation of affordable Virtual Reality (VR) headsets entering the market (Oculus, HTC-Vive, Samsung Gear, etc.). However, VR headsets still have to overcome a few technical challenges to provide the quality necessary to be used in future applications, such as education, personal office, or in professional environments (virtual marketing, 3D design, architecture, training of complex tasks, etc.).
The main challenges are:
1) Resolution: the existing headsets provide resolution densities <200 pixels/degree2. This makes difficult reading texts (critical in office applications) or recognizing faces (important for social media, watching movies or professional applications.
2) Size, weight and ergonomics: existing headsets are bulky (most of them over 1.200 cm3) and heavy (around 500g), what makes them to be used during long periods of time. This limits their application in professional environments.
3) Field of view (FOV): a real immersive visualization experience needs a minimum FOV of 90º, although a larger FOV would increase the immersivity of the experience.
The VR headsets entering the market have in common that all of them use conventional optics (with rotational symmetry and aspheric surfaces, Fresnel or diffractive). Conventional optics shows several drawbacks:
a) There is a compromise between the FOV and the size of the headset. Larger FOVs provide better immersive experiences, but need larger distance between optics and display, what makes the headsets bulky and heavy.
b) The resolution, limited by the display used, cannot be further improved by conventional optics. The state of the art of displays allows for resolutions <Mpixels/eye, resulting in maximum resolutions under 200 pixeles/degree2.
The project SuperVR will study non-conventional freeform optical architectures to improve the resolution, using mono and multi-channel configurations. Three different approaches will
1) Super-resolution based on human vision adapted design with variable magnification. This strategy can be used with mono and multi-channel optics and with any display frequency.
2) Super-resolution based on Time Division Multiplexing (TDM). It can be used with mono and multi-channel optics, but only with displays with frequencies over 120Hz.
3) Super-resolution based on pixel interlacing. For multi-channel systems, with large number of channels (>50) and any display frequency.
SuperVR project will be focused on the research of new freeform optics to improve the resolution of VR headsets. A theoretical study will be carried out, including 3 possible architectures. A practical design of each architecture will be developed, and a full optical system will be manufactured and tested, according to one of the three architectures. The optical system will be integrated in a prototype of VR headset and it will be tested in a relevant scenario related to the professional use of VR for virtual industry.