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This is how tomorrow's AR glasses work

Augmented reality (AR) merges the physical world with the virtual world. This is just as fascinating as it is technically complex – especially with AR glasses, which are coming into fashion. Producers of these high-tech glasses are supported by LightTrans located in Jena, Germany. The company develops and sells physical optics software for modeling and simulation.

The question at hand is a deep one: How do we see the world?

The fusion of the physical and virtual worlds is very complicated, especially when it comes to the trend of AR glasses. So how do you get the virtual image information in front of your eyes with clarity and sharpness, all while users of AR glasses continue to see the world clearly?

Software for the fine art
of optical physics

Answers can be found in Jena. The University City located in Thuringia, Germany, is regarded as the optics center for excellence, following the tradition of Carl Zeiss, Otto Schott and Ernst Abbe. SCHOTT is located here, with a glass production plant – as is LightTrans.

The up-and-comer has developed VirtualLab Fusion software, which simulates and optimizes optical elements and systems using fast physicaloptics calculation models.

„We see ourselves as
trendsetters in electromagnetic
modeling and design.“Professor Dr. Frank Wyrowski, President of LightTrans and Chair of the Applied Computational Optics Group at the University of Jena

Christian Hellmann, CEO of Wyrowski Photonics (right), tries out a pair of AR glasses together with SCHOTT Principal Scientist Dr. Frank-Thomas Lentes.
With VirtualLab Fusion software, a wide variety of optical systems can be modeled accurately and quickly.

„Our VirtualLab Fusion software not only allows us to simulate light propagation in modern optical systems, but also combines various simulation models on a single platform.” Professor Dr. Frank Wyrowski, President of LightTrans 

AR is booming.

Two years ago, the smartphone game Pokémon Go triggered a global craze. New worlds have long since opened up, and not only for gamers. Innovative applications using augmented reality are poised to drastically change our everyday lives. Sports fans have long been familiar with the superimposed line to signal the line of scrimmage in football or a controversial offside in soccer. It has also long since found its way into trade and industry. Fitters from thyssenkrupp, for example, use AR glasses for elevator maintenance that display information on the needed repairs – leaving both hands free to work in difficult conditions.

The goal: a crisp, sharp image

Before it reaches the human retina as an image point, light takes the path into the eye with so-called “plane waves”. There are many methods for AR glasses to guide waves into the eye as optimally as possible for producing clear, sharp images.

1

Projector emits the light waves of the digital image in the direction of the light guides (SCHOTT RealView™).

2

The projector‘s light waves are coupled into the light guide at a defined position with the help of a grating.

3

Light waves of each color are coupled out n times in the defined grating area. Since each human eye is individually shaped, the light waves must be decoupled n times (in the simplified image, only one RGB image is shown).

4

The mobile, unfixed human eye perceives both the digital and the real image. This creates the impression of an augmented reality.

“Our glass wafers are the link between the digital and the real world.”Dr. Rüdiger Sprengard, Head of Augmented Reality SCHOTT Advanced Optics

“Light guide technology is proving to be particularly promising for the future”, explains Wyrowski.

For one, because there are already promising products on the market, and secondly because AR technology can be compactly designed. Light guide technology typically uses three glass wafers, each one serving as a light guide for one color in the red-green-blue (RGB) color space.

SCHOTT RealView™: Core benefits

It is also important to cover as large a field of view (FoV) as possible when guiding waves, while also considering di.erent eye positions or distances through large eye boxes. The information to cover several fields of view must be guided through the light guides and then coupled out by gratings again to provide it to the human eye – ideally in the most uniform way possible.

“Since this is taking place on a nanoscale in the grating structure, our software modeling must be based on physical optics. We are operating on a very high level of modeling including all relevant physical-optics e.ects. We can do this quickly and extremely accurately,” says Wyrowski.

SCHOTT also relies on LightTrans’ expertise. Close cooperation between the two companies will help us to see the world with completely different eyes in the future.

Contact

Dr. Ruediger Sprengard
Advanced Optics
SCHOTT AG

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