A bench-top prototype of a heads-up display using TruLife's new optic

New optic provides truly transparent augmented reality

A new optical component launched today allows augmented reality devices to overlay colour 3D images on a subject without obscuring it.

The patent-pending optic is lightweight and can be easily mass-produced for consumer and industrial applications, according to London-based company TruLife Optics – a spin out from established holographic technology company Colour Holographic.

The glass waveguide, available to developers for £360, is 10cm long, 3cm wide and 2.8mm in thickness and contains two postage stamp sized holograms that allow it to display images in high definition, full colour, in perfect focus and in 3D through the centre of a field of vision.

Most importantly the image is transparent, which allows information to be overlaid on whatever subject is being viewed without obscuring it.

Jonathan Lewis, chief executive of TruLife, said: “The development of wearable augmented reality devices has been curtailed by the lack of an optical component that allows for the genuine overlay of high-definition, full colour and transparent images over the field of vision.

“Today, with the launch of our first commercially available optic, we provide that missing piece in the augmented reality jigsaw puzzle.”

The ability to overlay transparent images in the centre of the field of vision in perfect focus is achieved by transmitting light into the first hologram where it is then turned 90 degrees through the length of the waveguide, via total internal reflection, before hitting the second hologram and being turned a further 90 degrees so it is projected into the user’s eye.

The technology has been developed by TruLife Optics in partnership with the world-renowned National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, London and NPL will continue to work with TruLife Optics to further develop the technology and provide additional sales and marketing support.

Simon Hall, lead scientist for adaptive optics at NPL, said: “Together with the TruLife Optics team, we have created a genuinely game-changing technology that will lead to the acceleration in the development of augmented reality devices and applications.”

The initial batch of units is designed for developers creating prototype devices, and the cost of the optic for devices to be made in commercial volumes will depend on the final application and device to be produced.

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