Virtual Retinal Display: their falling cost and rising performance


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These slides use concepts from my (Jeff Funk) course entitled analyzing hi-tech opportunities to analyze the increasing economic feasibility of virtual retinal displays. These displays focus light on a person’s retina using LEDs, digital micro-mirrors and lenses, which are all encased in a head-set about the size of glasses. They enable high resolution 3D video images with a large field of view that are far superior to existing displays. Rapid improvements in LEDs and digital micro-mirrors (one type of MEMS) are enabling these displays to experience rapid reductions in cost and improvements in performance.

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Virtual Retinal Display: their falling cost and rising performance

  1. 1. Virtual Retinal Display (VRD) Ng Heng Chung Jaryl, Muhammad Nabil, Xavier Liau For information on other technologies, please see Jeff Funk’s slide share account ( or his book with Chris Magee: Exponential Change: What drives it? What does it tell us about the future? 1&keywords=exponential+change
  2. 2. An Introduction to Virtual Retinal Display
  3. 3. Contents • Timeline of VRD • Virtual Reality Display • Definition • VRD System Setup • Safety • Advantaged Features (Customer needs) • Important Technological Components • Important Dimensions Of Performance & Cost • Key Components & Important Dimensions of Performance and Cost • Future Applications • Avegant Glyph/Conclusion
  4. 4. Timeline of Diplays 1957: Split-flap display 1964: Monochrome plasma display 1968: Light emitting diode 1986: Thin film transistor LCD 2003: OLED 2013: VRD
  5. 5. Virtual Reality Display
  6. 6. Definition ● Known as a retinal scan display (RSD) or retinal projector (RP) ● Display technology that draws a raster display directly onto the retina of the eye ● User sees what appears to be a conventional display floating in space in front of them
  7. 7. VRD System Set-up • No real image produced • Image formed on the retina of user’s eye
  8. 8. VRD System Set-up • Photon source generates a coherent beam of light • System uses it to draw a diffraction spot on the retina • Intensity modulated to match intensity of image • Modulated beam scanned to place each image point at the proper position on the retina • Scanner could be used in calligraphic mode or in raster mode
  9. 9. VRD System Set-up • Optical beam must then be properly projected into the eye • Exit pupil of VRD to be coplanar with entrance pupil of eye • Lens and cornea will focus the beam on the retina forming a spot • Brightness of spot controlled by intensity modulation
  10. 10. VRD System Set-up • Moving spot draws an image on the retina • Eye’s persistence allows image to be continuous and stable • Drive electronics synchronize the scanners and intensity modulator forming a stable image
  11. 11. Safety • Rigorous safety standards by the American National Standards Institute and the International Electrotechnical Commission were applied in the development • Prevention of eye damage by constantly shifting from point to point with the beams focus • Emergency safety system • Harmless to the eyes and increase comfort during viewing due to reflected light
  12. 12. Important Dimensions of Performance (ie. Customer needs)
  13. 13. Important Dimensions of Performance • Size and weight • Resolution • Field of view • Colour and intensity resolution • Brightness • Power consumption • A true stereoscopic display • Cost
  14. 14. Important Dimensions of Performance Small size and lightweight • Does not require a physical screen • small number of components • miniaturization of components
  15. 15. Important Dimensions of Performance High resolution • Limiting factors: diffraction, optical aberrations from the optical components and how small the light spot on the retina can be made • Capable of reaching resolutions equivalent to Nyquist limit base on photoreceptor spacing of the retina
  16. 16. Important Dimensions of Performance Large field of view • controlled by the scan angle of the primary scanner and the power of the optical system
  17. 17. Important Dimensions of Performance Vibrant colours and intensity resolution • Colour generated by using three photon sources(eg. red, green, blue laser) overlapping in space yielding a single spot color pixel • thus able to emit highly saturated pure colours • Proper control of the current will allow greater than ten bits of intensity resolution per colour
  18. 18. Important Dimensions of Performance High brightness • VRD brightness is only limited by the power of the light source • a bright image can be created with under one microwatt of laser light • Laser diodes in the several milliwatt range are common • systems created with laser diode sources will operate at low laser output levels or with significant beam attenuation
  19. 19. Important Dimensions of Performance Low power consumption • VRD delivers light to the retina efficiently • The exit pupil of the system can be made relatively small allowing most of the generated light to enter the eye • the scanning is done with a resonant device which is operating with a high figure of merit, or Q
  20. 20. Important Dimensions of Performance A true stereoscopic display • The VRD has an individual wavefront generated for each pixel • It is possible to vary the curvature of the wavefronts which determines the focus depth • This variation of the image focus distance on a pixel by pixel basis, combined with the projection of stereo images, allows for the creation of a more natural three- dimensional environment
  21. 21. Important Dimensions of Performance Falling cost • Basic design of VRD consist of subsystems that largely make use of established optical and electronic technologies • investment in specialized manufacturing equipment is not required currently • thus, due to these standards manufacturing practises and parts,VRD can be mass produced at lower cost
  22. 22. Important Technological Components/Systems & their Improvements
  23. 23. Light sources LED Technology • lower power consumption • cheaper and easier to manufacture • Small and durable Laser Technology • High intensity of light emitted by the photons • light can be collected and easily focused down at a point
  24. 24. Laser Technology During the past several years, the evolution of high-power solid-state lasers has outstripped Moore’s law. This chart shows the power available from commercial single-mode and multimode solid-state lasers and, for comparison, what the power would be if it had doubled every year.
  25. 25. Laser Technology Fiber Lasers - have the increasing reliability and the lowering costs
  26. 26. Laser Technology Miniaturization of laser diodes
  27. 27. LED Technology The development of LED technology has caused their efficiency and light output to rise exponentiallly, with a doubling occurring approximately every 36 months since the 1960s, in a way similar to Moore's law. This trend is generally attributed to the parallel development of other semiconductor technologies and advances in optics and material science, and has been called Haitz's law after Dr. Roland Haitz
  28. 28. LED Technology Yole Développement’s LED experts expect all phases of LED production, including packaging, to undergo a >10× cost reduction over the next 10 years
  29. 29. LED Technology Cost reduction is driven by increasing production volumes, which affects LED and material costs, and by improvement in LED luminous intensity, which enables the use of fewer LED chips.
  30. 30. LED Technology LED bulb efficiency expected to continue improving as cost decline
  31. 31. Scanners Mechanical resonant scanner • Low power o Operate at natural resonance frequency • Compact-sized, Lightweight • Virtually unlimited operating life o No frictional contact between parts • Less error o Use of a single facet MEMs scanner ● Ultra-small ● Highly precise and fast response ● offers low-cost high-volume fabrication capability
  32. 32. Mechanical resonant scanner
  33. 33. MEMs Reduction in size of MEMs technology
  34. 34. Improvement in MEMs technology
  35. 35. Future Opportunities
  36. 36. Future Applications • Medical o Radiology o Surgery • Manufacturing • Communications • Virtual Reality • Military
  37. 37. Medical (Radiology) • Observe patients with real-time video X- rays •Replacing the present bulky Video Monitors
  38. 38. Medical (Surgery) • Easier location of tumors in the body cavity •A depth indicator could be visually laid over the obstructing organ
  39. 39. Manufacturing
  40. 40. Communications • Personal Video Pager • Video Fax Devices • Telephone Service
  41. 41. Virtual Reality • QI
  42. 42. Military
  43. 43. Thank You