Switchable waveguide solution doubles smartglass resolution

Switchable waveguide solution doubles smartglass resolution
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Waveguide optics technology company DigiLens has announced a solid-state switchable waveguide solution that is claimed to double the resolution of attached light engines within XR smartglasses without adding any material size, weight or power (SWaP) requirements to the head-worn system.
By Rich Pell

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The T-REx (Transparent Resolution Expander) switchable wobulation solution, says the company, takes high-definition (HD) content and allows it to be viewed on hardware that previously was not able to support HD images when measuring by pixel count. This enables OEMs to provide hardware that can support high-resolution content – including high precision usage in the medical or enterprise field – without forcing a trade-off in wearability or durability.

It also provides the option for smartglass manufacturers to leverage lower resolution hardware that is smaller in volume, weight, and thermal dissipation – three factors that are critical for compelling XR smartglass offerings.

“This is a real technological breakthrough as very rarely do you improve on pixel experience without any sort of trade off,” says 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.”

Many of the augmented and XR applications being developed today, says the company, require a high angular resolution as well as a large field of vieww – requirements that mean that the projector or display of choice needs to have an ever-increasing number of pixels. This drives cost, size, and power consumption and there is a limit to how small the projector pixels can become.

T-REx is offered as a smart and power efficient method for increasing the resolution of a chosen light engine coupled with existing DigiLens waveguides. It achieves this by implementing a proprietary hardware and software process that ultimately doubles the resolution of the content through solid-state wobulation and thereby delivers maximum resolution in the smallest, most cost-effective package possible.

When added to the company’s modular approach to XR glasses, developers can choose to use this increased resolution component technology to reduce projector size, enable a larger FOV at a fixed resolution, or simply reduce the cost of the projector by reducing its resolution and then doubling the systems overall resolution with the T-REx add on.

The T-REx switchable gratings generate a wobulation characteristic that now opens several new technical configurations that the hardware marketplace has never before had access to at this performance level, says the company. The company’s waveguide can switch as fast as 50 µs so they can easily support full color RGB wobulation at 60 Hz and even 90 Hz, allowing the eye to integrate it automatically and a viewer to experience a high-resolution image despite a lower resolution projector.

Advantages of T-REx are offered as the following:

  • Resolution doubling: Doubles the resolution of the projector that is coupled with the waveguide.
  • Competitive power consumption: 19.8-milliwatts for a Crystal50 waveguide (RGB) at 60Hz wobulation. This is really 3 times 6.6-milliwatts for each of the waveguide that make up the RGB stack. A single-color waveguide can be upgraded with T-REx for a total of just 6.6-milliwatts power consumption.
  • Space savings: T-REx waveguides are no larger than a normal Crystal50 waveguide since the switchable gratings take the place of standard input gratings within the waveguide itself. The only added measurable weight is the flex cable coming out of the waveguide and the chip that would be needed to provide the voltages. This equates to approximately 0.15g extra weight.
  • Projector compatibility: Compatible with all established projector types. This includes but is not limited to; LCoS, µLED, DLP, OLED, LBS and WILD. The only requirement on the projector is that there is a temporal separation between consecutive frames.
  • Heat and sound: T-REx does not produce any heat, sound or vibration and can run non-stop and indefinitely. Other wobulation alternatives generate a buzzing sound and/or heat and can be bulky and/or power hungry.

T-REx is available as an optional add-on component technology grant to the baseline manufacturing and supply license for any of the company’s licensees; or customers and partners can gain access to the technology by requesting the functionality when undertaking a custom smartglasses project within the Visualize Framework.

DigiLens

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