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18 September, 2019 - 15:01 By Kate Sweeney

CAPE and Huawei develop advanced head-mounted display

University of Cambridge Department of Engineering

Engineers in Cambridge have developed a new augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD) that provides an immersive 3D viewing experience without triggering common side effects including nausea and eyestrain. 

Researchers at the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) – in collaboration with Huawei European Research Centre in Munich – said their wearable AR device rivals the market-leading HMDs. 

The collaborators say that it offers a comfortable user experience that delivers high-quality images on the retina, suitable even for those wearing glasses. 

The product has a scalable, enlarged eye box capable of an increase in field-of-view of 36º. Images are displayed on the retina using pixel beam scanning to maintain image focus irrespective of the user’s fixation distance. 

The partially reflective beam splitters form a virtual ‘exit pupil’ through which light travels. The pixel beams move parallel to each other – without dispersing in different directions – which creates a high-quality image unaffected by the changes in a user’s eye focus.

Professor Daping Chu, director of the Centre for Photonic Devices and Sensors and director of CAPE, led the research study which reported no eye strain or nausea in the 50 participants even after prolonged use – a few hours or all day. 

Professor Daping Chu said: “Our research offers up a wearable AR experience that rivals the market leaders thanks to its comfortable 3D viewing which causes no nausea or eyestrain to the user. 

“It can deliver high quality clear images directly on the retina, even if the user is wearing glasses. This can help the user to see displayed real world and virtual objects clearly in an immersive environment, regardless of the quality of the user’s vision.”

The researchers said their HMD’s high brightness makes it a suitable device for different indoor and outdoor application. Further research is in progress to establish its suitability for defence applications and construction, outdoor sport, training, CAD development, data manipulation, and hospitality. 

The team is also researching a glasses-based format to miniaturise the head-mounted prototype.

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