DigiLens today announced a new capability for their waveguides which it’s calling a transparent resolution expander. Purportedly able to double the inherent resolution of any projector used in XR glasses, the system relies on quickly switching between two slightly offset images to increase effective resolution.

DigiLens, a leading creator of waveguide technology, today announced its transparent resolution expander (T-REx for short), which it claims can effectively double the resolution of any projector used in XR glasses.

T-REx makes use of the ‘wobulation’ technique, which essentially overlays two frames with a slight offset such that the pixels of one frame ‘fill in’ the spaces between the pixels in the next frame. If you do this fast enough the eye can’t tell that there’s actually two different frames though it can discern the additional detail.

To make this happen, the T-REx tech involves a ‘switchable’ waveguide. DigiLens hasn’t gone into detail about exactly how it works, but our understanding is that applying an electrical current to the waveguide can slightly adjust the position of the light coming out of the waveguide, which makes wobulation possible.

Facebook Researchers have demonstrated similar work involving mechanically moving displays for reducing the screen-door effect of VR headset.

DigiLens claims its T-REx approach can double the resolution of any given projector used in XR glasses.

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For example, if a pair of XR glasses uses a projector with a 500 × 500 resolution, it could take an input frame of 1,000 × 1,000, split the frame into two sub frames—each containing half of the information from the original—and then display both frames back to back rapidly with a slight offset so the eye can merge them together into a single image with greater detail than would otherwise be possible from the 500 × 500 resolution projector.

“This is a real technological breakthrough as very rarely do you improve on pixel experience without any sort of trade off,” said Chris Pickett, CEO of DigiLens. “It also expands the possibilities of our waveguides for a range of customers and use cases, who can benefit from a system they can upgrade and mold to their unique needs rather than a one size fits all approach where you have to wait for a whole new generation of products to benefit from updated specs.”

DigiLens says its switchable waveguide can switch image positions as fast as 50µs, allowing it to “easily support full color RGB wobulation at 60Hz and even 90Hz.” We’re not entirely sure if they mean to say that wobulated content would be running at 60Hz or 90Hz, or if the content’s effective frame rate would be half of those figures. We’ve reached out to the company for clarity.

The company also says that T-REx switching is compatible with “all established projector types,” including LCoS, micro-LED, DLP, OLED, LBS, and more. Furthermore, it claims that the system “does not produce any heat, sound or vibration and can run non-stop and indefinitely,” saying that similar approaches create buzzing and additional heat.

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DigiLens doesn’t actually manufacture waveguides themselves, but licenses the technology and manufacturing process to companies that want to make their own. It says that T-REx is now available to licensees as an add-on, or through it’s modular reference headset.

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  • Rob Scott

    Solid-state wobulation? Good name for a rock band.

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  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Going from 500*500 to 1000*1000 would be quadrupling the resolution, not doubling it.

    For example, if a pair of XR glasses uses a projector with a 500 × 500 resolution, it could take an input frame of 1,000 × 1,000, split the frame into two sub frames—each containing half of the information from the original—and then display both frames back to back rapidly with a slight offset so the eye can merge them together into a single image with greater detail than would otherwise be possible from the 500 × 500 resolution projector.

    That is not entirely correct. If you watch the video, it converts the 1000*1000 frame into two frames of 500*500, each containing one quarter of the information of the originals. The first frame is displayed, then the display is “wobulated” down and right by half a pixel in 50µs, the second frame is displayed, then the waveguide moves back in another 50µs. The two reduced frames have been generated in a way that their overlap looks correctly like a 1000*1000 frame, when in reality it only contained the information of a 500*1000 frame. This is where the “double the resolution” comes from. Basically smart, diagonal interlacing with overlap.

    As it works with overlapping half-pixels, it cannot really reproduce a 1000*1000 pixel, or at least not correctly with all colors. Let’s say the top left pixels in the first frame are blue, white, black and the overlaying top left pixels in the second frame are red, green. Overlayed you get six-half pixels, blue, magenta, red, green, dark green and black. There is no way you could make the second half-pixel white or the fifth half-pixel blue without also altering the other pixels. They can approach a visibly similar image with their proprietary software, but it would be interesting how much latency this extra conversion step will cost.

    • I had the same thought while reading it

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    • benz145

      Thanks for this info, I appreciate the explanation! I shot some clarifying questions off to DigiLens (which you touched on here) and have been awaiting their response. I’m also very curious about the latency and refresh rate implications, especially with regards to sequential RGB projection.

  • A simple and effective approach!

  • Seppo 70s

    So, interlaced.

    • #ops

      Yeah haha. I was beginning to think everyone had forgotten about interlacing. ‘Wobulation’ indeed!

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Video interlacing doesn’t increase resolution, it just reduces the required bandwidth to transfer a video signal by sending alternating frames containing either odd or even lines. For every frame, half of the lines remains unused, so in effect it reduces resolution.

        “Wobulation” is a strange term, oscillation would be better, but wouldn’t generate as much interest. It correctly describes the process, basically moving a lens back and forth in front of the display. While interlacing leaves empty lines on the screen in each frame, the “wobulated” display doesn’t fill a previously empty line, instead it overwrites an already filled one, shifted by half a pixel, increasing the perceived resolution. Which reduces the screen door effect, while interlacing emphasized it.

        The only thing this has in common with CRT TV interlacing is that every image is constructed from two different frames displayed in sequence. But this technology is closer to a DLP projector with color wheel, where the image is constructed from showing three overlapping, monochrome frames, one for red, green and blue, shown in sequence.

  • Scientism

    These alternating solutions to resolution usually don’t survive. And gaming monitors are pushing 200 hz nowadays.