[SID] Firms Introduce Head-mounted Displays for Augmented Reality

Jun 9, 2009
Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics
The 3D HMD exhibited by Lumus. Cables for transmitting images are removed.
The 3D HMD exhibited by Lumus. Cables for transmitting images are removed.
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The CMOS sensor-integrated compact OLED display developed by Fraunhofer IPMS
The CMOS sensor-integrated compact OLED display developed by Fraunhofer IPMS
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The HMD integrated with this OLED display
The HMD integrated with this OLED display
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

Two companies exhibited head-mounted displays (HMDs) intended for "Augmented Reality (AR)" applications at SID Display Week 2009.

AR is used to enhance human recognition abilities through a combination of real-world information and computer-generated data.

The two companies are Lumus Ltd of Israel and Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) of Germany. The displays of both companies project images on a transparent screen, allowing the user to see the images in front of the eyes and graphics from a computer at the same time.

Lumus exhibited a compact glasses-type HMD that enables 3D viewing. Images are transmitted from a separate PC via a cable. The images from LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) incorporated in the glasses are sent to the eyes via optical systems such as a prism and a light guide plate.

Images are focused at a certain point regardless of the positional relationship between the eyes and the glasses. It is not equipped with a GPS or an acceleration sensor, but they can be mounted if necessary, according to the company.

"We expect that it will be used to display navigation information, such as the information on stores and the names of buildings in the direction the user is looking," said Zvi Lapidot, chairman & CEO of Lumus. "We heard that Japan is advanced in its understanding of AR of that kind. The price is estimated at several hundred US dollars, but we would like to put it on the market after reducing the size and the weight a little more."

Integration of CMOS sensor, OLED display

Meanwhile, Fraunhofer IPMS developed a device composed of a CMOS sensor and an OLED display and used it to prototype an HMD. The CMOS sensor was manufactured using the 0.13μm generation technology.

An ultra-compact OLED display has already been developed by Rohm Co Ltd, but Fraunhofer's HMD is capable of displaying images and shooting external images in parallel. The primary purpose is tracking along the line of sight, which makes it possible to display the images in line with the eye direction, according to the company.

However, at this point, the HMD is fairly bulky. And it can display only green monochrome images. In respect to the CMOS sensor function, Fraunhofer only showed a demonstration using a red laser beam. When I asked whether images will interfere with the CMOS sensor when the display is colored, Fraunhofer did not provide a clear answer.