Of the three major “synthetic” reality platforms, Microsoft’s HoloLens comes closest to the dream of overlaying digital objects on top of real world ones and interact with both of them in the same way. However, it shares the same limitations as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in terms of the bulk of the headset required for it to function. That is why Microsoft Research teams have been working on a prototype that brings a “true” holographic display to near-eye devices that almost look no different from your regular pair o eyeglasses.
One of the reasons why VR and AR headsets are so big is because of the field of view. Due to the limits of current technology, a small head-mounted display (HMD) would suffer from a very narrow field of view, something the Google Glass has experienced first hand. However, mobility and comfort are usually sacrificed at the altar of functionality in the case of the HoloLens.
Microsoft Research therefore set out to do what was thought impossible, a holographic near-eye display. That is, a holographic display small enough to fit inside regular, though slightly large specs and project images closer to the eye. This display affords an 80-degree field of view which, while still lower than something like the HoloLens, is significantly wider than the 20 degrees of conventional near-eye displays.
That however, isn’t their only accomplishment. They were also able to use eye-tracking to choose the focal point in real-time. But perhaps most important, they were able to implement vision correction features that would enable users to wear the near-eye display without having to worry about their real, prescription eyeglasses.
Microsoft makes it clear the prototype in no way represents the commercial direction the company will be taking. However, if the Research leads to a truly innovative and usable device, it’d be insane not to make use of it.
SOURCE: Microsoft Research