From HMDs to HUDs, Heliodisplays to foldable paper, the display technologies of virtual and augmented reality are becoming too numerous to count. Yet in amoungst all the noise, there are definite trends.
Sutherland's Sword of Damocles
The first true computer mediated VR system was Professor Ivan Sutherland's 'Sword of Damocles' display system. Built in 1968, the sword got its name directly from the greek story of Damocles, the sword which hung suspended by a hair, directly above the king's throne. At any moment, the hair might snap, and the sword plunge down, killing the king.
The Head Mounted Display, or HMD was one of the first true VR interfaces. It has gone through many changes over the years, and introduced new medical conditions. HMDs remain popular even today, but what are these strange boxy devices? How do they work?
In early 2005, Icuiti corporation produced the V920. The first commercially released HMD/HUD hybrid. Now, in early 2007, it seems they have changed their minds, and greatly modified the v920 into three new models, each one an advancement over the original. Here, we examine the VR920.
It is an icon of past failures of VR. The Virtual Boy, once hailed by Nintendo as the future of gaming. All the basic science is sound, and the concept was a good one, so where did this abortive attempt to revolutionise interfaces, go so terribly wrong?
A look at the Sega VR, a head mounted display and fully immersive interface of the early 1990s, that somehow never quite managed to make it off the ground.
An Engineers' AR Display
A new concept on eye tracking, does two things. Firstly, it integrates both concepts into one device, by registering eye movement through the simple expedient of tracking pupil movement via machine vision, and mounting the tracking camera on the rear frame of the device.
Augmented Reality, Designed for Space, Half a Century Behind Everyone Else
The European Space Agency (ESA) have released details of a new augmented reality interface they have been testing and how it actually benefits astronauts when in space. Quite scarily they actually believe they are the first organisation to implement an AR interface, according to their press release.
Icuiti M920 Heads up Display System Introduced
Industry news from 07-02-2005. On Wednesday, 2nd of February, Icuiti announced the introduction of the M920 Heads up Display System (HUD). This device offers a healthy resolution for a heads up display, with none ofthe weight, or overheating issues of previous displays.
Seeing Through Walls: Heat Vision AR Leaves the Movies
In many modern sci-fi films, a fugitivve is on the run, and the authorities track them by means of an AR camera that can penetrate the walls of the building they are in, and search them out by their shape, movement, or the heat they give off. Well, the first real version of that system has been created.
Bad name puns aside, CamAR is exactly what it sounds like. Its an augmented reality camera system. Designed by Vuzix, it clips onto the outside of their VR920 virtual reality video eyewear, turning the 400 usd device into an augmented reality visor.
What if you could take the physical world, and overlay virtual reality images directly onto it? See the physical world, but with bits added from computer mediation?
The Heads Up Display, or HUD is one method of doing this.
The SportVue heads-up display for motorcycles and other motion sports is designed to augment the rider?s vision with a continuing display of computerised data about the terrain, weather warnings, their speed, and exact location on the course, without taking their eye off the path ahead.
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The Perspecta display system was released by Actuality Systems in May 2005. Its intended purpose is as a 3D volumetric display capable of projecting a virtual object right in front of you.
The Dextroscope is a holographic display system designed specifically to help surgeons visualize and practice on the area to be operated on, prior to actual surgery.
VR Interfaces: Fogscreen
Fogscreen is a holoprojection method that utilises a layer of artificially fogged air as a display screen for projected content. It in effect, creates a cascading curtain of wet air that can be walked through whilst displaying moving, bright, images.
A technical look at the Perspecta suspended display system, released by Actuality Systems in May 2005. Its intended purpose is as a 3D volumetric display capable of projecting a virtual object right in front of you.
Remember StarWars? That iconic moment when the hologram of Princess Leia is projected from R2 D2? Heliodisplay is that technology made real. It is literally, the production of holograms that hover in thin air.
The virtual laser keyboard first appeared in mid 2005, and is a product of machine vision and projection technology. The emitter itself is about the size of a small mobile phone, and so can be discretely attached to any handheld device.
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There have been a great many attempts over the years at sterioscopic display systems - displays that offer vision in sterio, a slightly different image for each eye, the same as you expect naturally.
3D Dashboards: Future, or Distraction?
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, in Berlin, Germany, have created a new variety of car dashboard and display system that attempts to give the driver all the information they require to drive, in a three dimensional, interactive format, rather than a collection of dials and flashing lights.
Stereoscopic Broadcasting Begins
With the hubbub surrounding cinema 3.0, and 3D stereoscopy in the cinemas, it seemed only a matter of time before stereoscopy as the next great buzzword of the passive entertainment industry (broadcast networks) started to filter into broadcasting.
Stereoscopic Display Methods
Visual stereoscopy comes in many flavours. Depending on how the video feed is constructed, and whether or not it was originally designed with stereoscopy in mind, the technology used to deliver a slightly different positional viewpoint to the eye, differs greatly.
True 3D Endoscopy
Whilst endoscopes and laproscopic surgery are truly a revolutionary way of peering inside the body and performing complex operations from tiny incisions, the size of the endoscope has always traditionally limited them to single cameras and flat displays. But, with a little lateral thinking, even a single camera can produce stereoscopy.
The Binocular Omni Orientation Monitor or BOOM was one of the very first immersive VR interfaces, predating even the HMD. Massive and unwieldy, they none the less have some valuable properties which still see them in use today.
Released December 2005, the CyberMan GVD510-3D head-mounted display is a stereoscopic display unit, with a resolution of 640 x 480. Made by Kopin Corporation, China, this unit is essentially part of the new trend of video eyewear, combining HUD and HMD in one device.
The first of the ?video eyewear? phenomenon, the Icuiti V920 arrived in the world in early 2005. This thin strip was the first time the concept of a hybrid head mounted / heads up display had been launched. It turned out to be quite a nice unit, certainly betterthan many attempts since.
At CES 2009, Nvidea unveiled a system of active glasses. Specifically, shutter glasses. The frames alternate polarisation to block light out every second frame, so that each eye gets half the screen update rate of any normal monitor, but will work with a normal output stream just fine.
Taking a look at shutter glasses, one of the staple technologies for sterioscopic vision in VR and AR.
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eMagin Corporation's Eyebud 800 personal display system. This is a video eyewear display, which is specifically designed to interface with an ipod.
Logitech's G19 keyboard is in its own way, a serious attempt at a mainstream VR interface. It is designed as a gamers keyboard, attempting to heighten immersion for gaming for the majority of users who do not touch-type. The board actually has an adjustable liquid crystal monitor built into the back of it, above the function keys.
In early 2005, Icuiti corporation produced the V920. The first commercially released HMD/HUD hybrid. Now, in early 2007, it seems they have changed their minds, and greatly modified the v920 into three new models, each one an advancement over the original. Here, we examine the AV920.
In early 2005, Icuiti corporation produced the V920. The first commercially released HMD/HUD hybrid. Now, in early 2007, it seems they have changed their minds, and greatly modified the v920 into three new models, each one an advancement over the original. Here, we examine the DV920.
A different sort of iWear device, Vuzix's AV 230XL is panoramic, yet designed solely for audio-visual playback, not for interactivity,
In November 2008, Vuzix (formerly Icuiti) launched two new additions to their video eyewear range, designed to make you look like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek. One of these new HMDs, the AV 310, is something of a first. It is a widescreen head mounted display, specifically designed for 16:9 format.
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E-Books Like Books: Flippable, Browsable
We take a look at the first of the lab-birthed dual sided E-book readers that works like a paper book, just bulkier and heavier. A step in the right direction towards paper books with dynamic data, but is it enough?
New Nvidia GPU: A Supercomputer in a PC?
The GPU, or graphics processing unit is the heart of any 3D accelerator graphics care. It is a powerful workhorse, frequently more powerful than a PC?s CPU ? central processing unit ? and dedicated solely to graphics. The pace of GPU advancement has picked up substantially in recent years, with Nvidia and ATI Technologies, going at it hammer and tongs, to try and outdo one another.
Swapping Data Across Devices with a Gesture
The stuff of numerous sci-fi films – the concept of with no more than a gesture, moving data wholesale from one computer to the next, has been made real, with a device not only functional in the lab, but already on its way to mass market commercial use, integrated in satellite and cable TV units.
The omni-focus is a camera system with the ability to function much like the human eye - capturing objects in its field of vision regardless of the distance, in perfect focus. It even adapts an algorithm from VR, in order to do so.
The PC: Leading the way in home-based graphical immersion
There has been a lot of buzz lately, around the consoles - Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii, as to offering the ultimate gaming experience. Virtual environments, whilst not games, depend on the same hardware performance. So, which platform does offer the best development point for high-end worlds? Is the humble personal computer a thing of the past?
VR Interfaces: Minoru webcam
One of the more interesting developments to come out of a mediocre 2009 CES, was the Minoru webcam. It's a stereoscopic anaglyph recorder for home use.
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Open-Source, Multitouch Surface
At the start of May 2008, Engineers at Eyebeam, an engineering and design firm based in New York, created a scaled-down open-source version of Microsoft Surface, called Cubit.
18-Foot Wide Super-HD Multi-User Multitouch Display
On September 8th 2009, Obscura Digital installed the first display of its kind, at the Hard Rock cafe in Las Vegas, US. This display is a dynamically resizing, dynamically multi-user, multitouch display wall.
CAVE usage in Research spreads to Microbiology
A CAVE-type installation has been installed in India, for use by the mircobiology research and technology centre IMTECH. Virtalis, the manufacturer of the specific CAVE-variant technology used; the ActiveWall system, have been extremely keen to promote this major VR installation. Great news as it is for them, it is of course even better news for the increasing push to see highly immersive VR interfaces made increasingly pervasive in higher learning.
Cyclorama: the oft-neglected Tool
The cyclorama was the 19th century's version of TV, video game, and virtual reality, all (literally) rolled into one. By painting a large, highly detailed and realistic scene on the inside of a massive cylinder, they gave viewers standing in the middle, the feeling of really being a part of that scene.
FlexVision XL is a hefty medical flat screen monitor. It is a 56 inch (125 cm) display that functions like a GeoWall. The size of six normal monitors, the Flex in its name is from the design decision that the display area can be dynamically resized and split into as many virtual screens as the medical practitioner desires.
Large Image Display: The Stepford Wives: Blending Displays with Drapes
There are several potential ways this display is working. One of the simplest and most plausible is a colour e-paper display behind a completely transparent display medium. The e-paper handles the picture, 'refreshing' the colour display to a matt black when the layer in front, the graphical display is activated. As soon as that deactivates, the 'oil' is re-drawn. Simple, elegant, and still far beyond us.
Podcast: Pluribus: Scalable Multi-Projector Displays
A 30 minute podcast detailing the Pluribus projector system, designed by HP. Pluribus allows any mumber of different projectors, made by different manufacturers, with differing spec, to work together as one, to create a seamless display wall on a shoe string.
Podcast: Presence: Being Alive on the Network
This podcast comes from the second PICNIC conference in Amsterdam in 2007. It deals with display technology. New technologies in display and interaction to improve nominally passive VR experiences - cinema.
Podcast: Tour the AlloSphere
A short presentation from TED 2009, in which JoAnn Kuchera-Morin introduces a new scientific visualisaton VR environment: The Allosphere.
The Barco 42 inch HDTV, specially designed for use in operating theaters, and DICOM data networks, is one of the first of a new breed of display device, delivering up to the second information to the surgeon.
The Barco R-360 is a double hemisphere display system for flight simulation that offers carefully balanced highly dynamic displays of up to 140 megapixel, completely surrounding the user.
A curious device, a biowall installation - several exist at this current time - is in essence, an organically growing computer composed of inorganic modules. It might almost be described as an ultimate augmented reality system of a sort.
BrainLab?s Digital Lightbox is essentially a single-screen geowall interface. Looking like nothing so much as a vastly oversized iPhone, this flatscreen display sits long ways on the wall, and is as many display screens as the users need it to be at the time.
The Star CAVE is the first of the third generation of CAVE VR interfaces - Computer Augmented Virtual Environments. As its name suggests, it is star-like in that it has five corners, like an pictographic star. However, the outline of its form resembles a pentagon, not a pentagram.
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A new route to Retinal Displays - Holographic Lenses
Retinal display systems have been under development for many years with few successes. A new, and fundamentally different approach to the problem is now being trialled by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Professor Shy Shoham and team are testing the power of holography to artificially stimulate cells in the retina of the eye, with the intent of bionically restoring vision. As a side-effect it would of course create a whole new class of retinal displays.
Research opens way for bionic eye
Researchers at Harvard Medical School in the US discovered the sites to stimulate in the brain of monkeys to feed visual information in, opening the way for artificial, bionic eyes. This development was a major step towards the creation of true 'virtual light' systems.
Virtual sight devices, sometimes termed virtual light, are a class of display system which is a mix of AR, prosthetics, and VR. They have no actual display units as such, and completely bypass the human eye. Instead, they tap into the optical nerve directly, and deliver processed information to the neurons heading into the brain.
It would be years before Borg, the cyborg, walks the streets. But accidents have forced two individuals to consider implanting eye-cams in their prosthetic eyes.
The Minds Eye, Scanning, and Improving VR
If you are looking for someone in a crowded scene, whether a "where's Wally" book, or a crowded cafeteria, your eyes scan the room like a roving spotlight, moving from face to face? Researchers at Researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have found that you do. What's more there's something very much akin to a clock cycle controlling the speed at which you do so.
The 'virtual light' class of retinal displays, are perhaps unique in the display industry, because they don't actually display anything. The entire concept is built round bypassing the eye entirely, and dropping visual encoded information directly into the optic nerve.
Augmented reality tagging has begun to creep forwards as a technology for some years now. If you can co-ordinate virtual data with physical locations, you can tag something, and correlate to a virtual database. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a system which is designed as a memory aid for the elderly, to build on this concept.
It may look a little ungainly, and perhaps not best for use in outside environments, but the EyeSeeCam, developed by biomedical engineers and clinical neurologists at the University of Munich Hospital, is camera designed to store and transmit the exclusive point of view of its wearer's eyes.
At CHI 2009 (computer Human Interaction conference,) many new modalities of interface were demonstrated. One of the more practical was the product of a team from ETH Zurich's Wearable Computing lab. Vaguely resembling the bastard child of a set of safety glasses and a HMD, the EOG goggles are an eye movement tracking system, that requires no external hardware to operate.
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Simulation Sickness, sometimes called cybersickness, is a specific type of motion sickness that occurs in VR. It is caused by slight lag in the system, so that the visual data from a direct sensory system reaches your eyes several milliseconds too late. Thus, your eyes tell you you are still moving, whilst your inner ear says, no, you’ve stopped.
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The Readius is a rollable display unit, no larger than a pocket tape recorder. It has been 'about to be released' since late 2006, but is finally making steps towards commercial viability. The technology of foldable electronic paper, taken one step further to that of rollable electronic paper, in an attempt to make such displays as lightweight and convenient as possible.
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Integrated Projection Systems
Projectors integrated within larger devices, and projectors which have above average capabilities integrated into them, form a cornerstone of display technology, both for volumetric interaction, and the display of specialized data types.
It had to happen sooner or later; a remote control with an inbuilt television screen for the truly lazy. At CES 2010, Samsung delivered on what is basically one such device. Designed to work with Samsung's 9000-series flatscreen TVs, the remote is essentially a mini pad computer, with a design not too dissimilar from an iPhone.
Cameras Without Lenses
It sounds odd to think of cameras without lenses to focus the light, because cameras have continually been created with intent to replicate the eye, and the eye has a lens. Without a lens, how do you focus light? Well you don't, but that's ok, because you don't have to.
A low-budget native DICOM supporting digital/analogue projector, designed to handle complex and subtly shaded medical data from every DICOM compatible device, in the training and presentation environment.
A native DICOM supporting digital/analogue projector, designed to handle complex and subtly shaded medical data from every DICOM compatible device, in the training and presentation environment.
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Tabletop displays, interactive tabletops and desks are essentially multitouch touchscreen systems that are integrated into hard-wearing surfaces for everyday use as normal tables, desks, counters, et al, at the same time to being interactive data display systems. Tabletop displays are extremely useful, but have a host of design issues all of their own.
Large Image Display: Chrysalis: Natural User Interface in Paperwork
A look at the tabletop interface system, a form of NUI that has long been sought after, but as the French film Chrysalis imagines it. A form which strongly resembles current efforts, but has the added benefit of being just a few years ahead of us, and is willing to show the capabilities off.
PiVOT: Personalised View Overlays for Tabletops
Developed by researchers at the University of Bristol 's Interaction and Graphics department, PiVOT is a project designed to allow a group of people to interact with the same interactive display table system,by providing a personalised view of the data space on the table to each user, but at the same time, providing a central, shared view of the data so everyone can see the big picture.
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Displays that bend and twist without tearing, backed by equally flexible electronics are essential to many concepts of an augmented reality world. Phones that can be literally rolled up and fitted in the pocket. Smart, interactive newspapers with video and audio capabilities, that can be rolled up, scrunched up, and have the corners folded over – treated exactly the same as more traditional newspapers and magazines, with barely perceptible differences in thickness to them.