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Facebook Research Lab Reveals Sunglasses-Like VR Headset

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It’s time to bid adieu to bulky VR devices as Facebook reveals a new proof-of-concept VR headset with a display measuring 8.9mm in thickness. Combining the power of holographic optics and polarization-based optical folding, the ‘world’s thinnest’ VR headset from Facebook looks like a pair of sunglasses that don’t need to be strapped to your head.

Unlike current headsets that have box-like form factors and provide only a fraction of the resolution of the human eye, Facebook proposes technologies with laser illumination, directional backlighting, and color-multiplexing to achieve the field of view (FOV) and resolution expected of modern VR headsets.

In their research paper, “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” Andrew Maimone and Junren Wang from Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) explain: “Using only thin, flat films as optical components, we demonstrate VR displays with thicknesses of less than 9mm, fields of view of over 90◦ horizontally, and form factors approaching sunglasses.”

The two researchers also show off a full color display using wavelength-multiplexed holographic lenses that uses laser illumination for a large gamut and highly saturated color.

“The proposed method takes advantage of pancake optics to reduce size; however, unlike prior near-eye displays, we use thin and flat holographic films to focus the image, rather than conventional curved reflective and refractive optics,” the researchers added.