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New transparent display system could provide wide-angle-view heads-up data

January 24, 2014 | Telepresence Options

MIT_glass

Story and images by Kurzweil

MIT researchers have come up with a new approach to transparent displays that could have significant advantages over existing systems for certain kinds of applications: wide viewing angle, simplicity of manufacture, and potentially low cost and scalability.

Transparent displays have a variety of potential applications -- such as the ability to see navigation or dashboard information while looking through the windshield of a car or plane, or to project video onto a window or a pair of eyeglasses.

A number of technologies have been developed for such displays, but all have limitations.

The innovative system is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, co-authored by MIT professors Marin Solja?i? and John Joannopoulos, graduate student Chia Wei Hsu, and four others.

Many current "heads-up" display systems (such as Google Glass) use a mirror or beam-splitter to project an image directly into the user's eyes, making it appear that the display is hovering in space somewhere in front of him. But such systems are extremely limited in their angle of view: The eyes must be in exactly the right position in order to see the image at all. With the new system, the image appears on the glass itself, and can be seen from a wide array of angles.

Other transparent displays use electronics directly integrated into the glass: organic light-emitting diodes for the display, and transparent electronics to control them. But such systems are complex and expensive, and their transparency is limited.

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