Today’s virtual reality headsets are universally big — closer to goggles than glasses, and even then, larger and heavier than modern ski goggles. While Facebook has shown prototypes of bigger and more complex Oculus VR headsets, it’s made no secret of its interest in creating lightweight models that can be worn all day. Now it’s revealing a holographic optical architecture designed for thinner, lighter VR headsets, which it expects will appear in future “high-performance AR/VR” devices.
Facebook is trying to make VR glasses thinner and more “socially acceptable.” The company in a new research paper has revealed its glasses-like prototype virtual reality (VR) headset with a display measuring 8.9mm in thickness, which is about the same as a regular smartphone.
The social media giant says that one way to achieve “sunglasses”-like VR headsets, is by replacing the refractive lens with holographic optics. It essentially means that the new optics will allow the light to reach human eyes in a smaller distance, unlike regular VR gear that require to be bulky to accommodate thick lens to change the angle of light from the display to our eyes.
In wearable prototype form, each eye display features a resolution of roughly 1,200 by 1,600 pixels — comparable to current VR goggles — with a field of view that’s either a 93-degree circle or a 92-by-69-degree rectangle.
The Facebook spectacles comparable to the display specs of a 571-gram Oculus Quest, but in a glasses-like form factor that weighs less than 10 grams in total, albeit with only a single eye display in the prototypes. The researchers note they could cut parts and change materials to achieve a 6.6-gram weight equivalent to plastic aviator sunglasses but would compromise performance by doing so.
The researchers pointed out that there are several limitations with the sunglasses-like prototype VR headset, therefore indicating its launch is still years away. Currently, the prototype outputs in monochrome, and it is yet to achieve a full-color display.