Microsoft Research Unveils Compact Holographic AR Wide Angle Displays To Advance HoloLens Technology

Microsoft hopes to soon rival the holograms featured in sci-fi works like Star Trek and Star Wars. The company just unveiled compact holographic AR wide-angle displays that it anticipates will advance HoloLens technology.

hologram prototype focus control

Microsoft has been experimenting with true, phase-only holograms that are created through the interference of laser light. Holograms are often noisy, monochromatic images with low resolution and contrast. Microsoft also remarked that digital holograms often require time-consuming, offline calculations. Its latest technology addresses both image quality and computation speed. Microsoft even contends that its latest real-time holograms can be generated at rates of 90-260 Hz with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

The phase-only holograms provide a “per-pixel focus control with virtually no discretization”. The focus of this image is able to match eye focus and provides smooth and natural focal cues. The phase-only holograms are also able to incorporate aberration correction or “the ability to encode optical corrections to the display optics in software”. The developers are essentially able to simpler optics to create new and more complex optical architectures.

microsoft phase only hologram prototype

Microsoft is also working on making holograms more comfortable to look at. They are currently hoping to make holographic displays that people could use without their corrective lenses. These holograms would be able to correct near- and far- sightedness as well as astigmatism. Microsoft’s current holographic display now take into account once inaccessible combinations form factor and field of view as well. Their most recent prototype is similar to sunglasses in form with a thin and transparent holographic optical element. It also allows for a 80 degree horizontal field of view.

The company argues that these most recent developments are not indicative of any product road-map. Their current goal is to simply improve upon the technology that started with the HoloLens and make holograms clearer, smoother, more easily accessible.