Try on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and one of the first things you’ll probably notice looking through the lenses are fine concentric circles, creating something many call ‘God Rays’—especially egregious when viewing high contrast scenes. A new Facebook patent has just come to light that aims to mitigate these sorts of visual artifacts with a new hybrid Fresnel lens design.

Dubbed the ‘Hybrid fresnel lens with reduced artifacts’ (publication #10133076), the new lens creates a larger surface area dedicated to a standard, non-Fresnel type like you might find in headsets such as Cardboard or even Samsung’s Gear VR, but compliments its with a ring of standard Fresnel-style ridges near the periphery.

The patent was initially filed September 13th, 2016, and subsequently published late last month.

Image courtesy U.S. Patent Office

Fresnel lenses are great at cutting down on weight; they provide a large aperture and short focal length that gives the lens equivalent power to a conventional lens design, but at a fraction of the weight.

While thinner, they do introduce visual artifacts that some users hate so much they’ve even gone as far as modding their HTC Vive headsets to accept Gear VR lenses.

Image courtesy U.S. Patent Office

Facebook’s Oculus Rift, which released around the same time the patent was filed, also features hybrid Fresnel lenses, although Rift’s are undoubtedly finer in appearance than many on the market, including HTC Vive and the most recent Google Daydream.

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Still though, optical artifacts such as God Rays persist which should ideally disappear as the display hardware matures around it. Putting a conventional lens at the center where the headset’s best viewing position lies though (aka ‘the sweet spot’) and shifting Fresnel ridges to the periphery may strike a good balance between optics clarity and overall weight.

It’s true that many patents never see productization, although we haven’t yet laid eyes on the company’s fabled next iteration of Rift, so there’s no telling what lies ahead.

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  • Unsure how much this will help, as the most distracting glare is in fact at the edges. It’s part of what makes watching a video in a VR theater so hard on the eyes – all the additional flashing light at your periphery.

  • Ellon Musk

    Didn’t think we’d see any improvement on lenses any time soon

    • Justos

      have you seen the difference between Rift and Go lenses? its already dramatic

  • sfmike

    This can’t be used anytime to soon. The god rays on the original Vive and Oculus are truly horrible, especially when you were coming from a Gear VR with better lens. The fresnel lens is a cataract simulator in my mind and makes watching movies or anything high contrast uncomfortable.

    • Joshwa Sanders

      Hence why I love my Vive’s Gear VR Lens mod.

    • brandon9271

      I can’t stand god ray! They’re truly horrible. Especially on the Rift. I would’ve gladly paid a premium for better lenses

    • mirak

      gear vr lenses disform the colors on the side

    • Justos

      bothers me how uninformed people can be. The gearVR lenses are cheap, and have a tiny focus point. Its not better for VR. It creates unrealistic color reproduction. Its only benefit is no god rays. The rift/go lenses have so many more pros

    • Dark Evry

      PSVR has the best lenses, no god rays whatsoever.

  • impurekind

    It’s great that we keep hearing about so much stuff advancing so quick in VR.

  • MasterElwood

    I thought we already had the problem mostly solved with the go lenses?

  • lnpilot

    Don’t even get me started on the atrocious optics in today’s VR headsets. God rays are the least of the problem. The small eye box, massive chromatic aberration and uneven focus are much worse. Today’s VR headsets are glorified cell phone screens with a pair of cheap plastic lenses slapped on them.
    It takes a lot more than that to make a usable VR headset.

  • Harmen

    I have way more issues with the chromatic abberation of the gearvr lenses than the fresnel effect of the vive. The latter I get accustomed to very quickly, the first stays anoying, continuously reminding I am in a virtual world.

  • Rob H

    While I love all news of development pushing VR to higher and higher quality, this doesn’t look like it’s designed for any wider a FoV than the current Oculus/Vive so not likely to be used in anything I ever purchase. Bit like finding out Samsung is working on a new AMOLED monitor but its only 19″ and 4:3.

  • Nerd Man

    Why don’t they just manufactured a spherically curved OLED screen? Why are they trying to compensate for a flat display?

    • Baldrickk

      Compensation for the flat display is performed by warping the image displayed at render time.

      When you have something really close that you need to focus on, you need a strong lens to help. Stronger lenses are ‘fatter’ which takes up more space and weighs more – the two strong points of fresnel lenses, although they come with their own drawbacks.

      The compensation the lens exists for is not that the display is flat – but proximity, size and weight.

  • Cool

  • oompah

    why not patent the eye
    or the air
    patenting too far

  • Pizzy

    I modded both my Vives with the Gear VR lens no more god rays it great, can’t go back to stock lens.