avegant hmd virtual retinal display vrd

A new head mounted display by a company called Avegant uses 2 million micromirrors in a virtual retinal display to  draw images directly onto the retina. The company says this replicates the way we see in real life and lends itself to much more realistic images.

According to Engadget, who got to check out a prototype of the Avegant HMD says that it produces an “insanely sharp definition and a realistic image even with low-resolution sources… the quality — and the overall experience — blows everything else out of the water.”

Sounds impressive, but the current Avegant HMD prototype has a 45 degree viewing angle, positioning it away from immersive gaming and more toward a wearable display for media.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to reach immersive FoV levels with a virtual retinal display (VRD) device. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Human Interface Technology Laboratory say that, as of 1995, VRD systems with 60 degree FoV have been demonstrated and that “systems with 100 degree fields of view are feasible.” They also list a number of potential advantages for VRDs over traditional displays:

  • Size and weight
  • Cost
  • Resolution
  • Field-of-view
  • Brightness
  • Power consumption

Engadget reports that the Avegant HMD consumer model will include head tracking, weigh much less than the prototype, and include integrated sound an power for portable use; no word on price at this point. Engadget also says that the unit is “slated to ship sometime in Q1 2014″… but also that Avegant will be launching a crowdfunding campaign soon; I can’t imagine that Avegant will be able to launch a crowd funding campaign and ship in that window, but maybe Engadget got mixed up regarding shipping and a crowd funding launch date. We’ll let you know when we find out more.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Mageoftheyear

    Hmm, not sure I want to go blind within a week. And yes, Q1 2014 seems waaay to short of a timeline to get this out of the door. Thanks for the coverage Ben.
    At least we can hope some of this leads to Oculus exploring some new concepts. I love me some competition.

  • EdZ

    To be technical: the Oculus ALSO projects directly onto your retina. Because it’s focused at infinite, the optical path of backlight->LCD->plastic lens->eye lens->retina results in an image focused on your retina. Replacing the LCD with a DLP and increasing the power of the lens (or using multiple elements) is not inherantly changing anything.

    Their claims about ‘reflected light’ being more realistic are also bunk. Your eyes do not have any sort of mechanism to tell whether the light they receive was emitted from that direction or reflected from an object in that direction. Your brain can infer this based on visual cues in the scene, but that’s down to the rendering engine rather than the light engine.