Home Technology Facebook’s new VR headset looks like a pair of sunglasses

Facebook’s new VR headset looks like a pair of sunglasses

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When you think of VR Goggles, you typically think of big unwieldy headsets that can often be a little awkward to wear. What if virtual reality could be achieved simply by wearing a pair of sunglasses and perhaps even be a fashion statement? That is the idea behind Facebook’s new proof-of-concept virtual reality headset.

What stands out most about this new approach is just how lightweight and thin the glasses are, with a display thickness of just 9mm. Despite this, Facebook claims these glasses will offer a field of view that’s “comparable to today’s consumer VR products.”. Facebook themselves describe how this tech magic all works:

Most VR displays share a common viewing optic: a simple refractive lens composed of a thick, curved piece of glass or plastic. We propose replacing this bulky element with holographic optics. You may be familiar with holographic images seen at a science museum or on your credit card, which appear to be three-dimensional with realistic depth in or out of the page. Like these holographic images, our holographic optics are a recording of the interaction of laser light with objects, but in this case, the object is a lens rather than a 3D scene. The result is a dramatic reduction in thickness and weight: The holographic optic bends light like a lens but looks like a thin, transparent sticker.

These new VR glasses use a technique which the company calls “polarization-based optical folding” to help reduce the amount of space between the actual display and the lens that focuses the image. With polarization-based optical folding, “light can be controlled to move both forward and backward within the lens so that this empty space can be traversed multiple times, collapsing it to a fraction of the original volume.”

It all sounds like big science words which I don’t quite understand, but I certainly like where the company is going with this. Whereas glasses are typically a go-to model for augmented reality, nothing has been done with them on the VR space and while you obviously can’t actually walk around in them, having something this light could make things possibly even more immersive. And perhaps in the future, we can shift between the real world and virtual world seamlessly.

Last Updated: July 1, 2020

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