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A More Realistic Augmented Reality

April 14, 2017 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by MIT Technology Review

It's not a consumer product (yet), but a startup's AR headset could give HoloLens a run for its money.

There are still just a few companies showing off augmented-reality headsets that do a good job blending digital imagery with the real world, among them Microsoft's HoloLens and Meta's Meta 2.

One more is now joining the fray. A startup called Avegant, which already sells a funny-looking personal-theater headset called the Glyph for $499, has built a prototype of a headset with a transparent display that it says uses light-field technology to let you view virtual objects as naturally as you do real ones. A light field is the pattern created when rays of light bounce off something, and re-creating this effect is one key to making sharp-looking augmented-reality images that you can comfortably focus on when they are at different depths but in the same scene--like, say, a toy car an arm's length away and a house off in the distance.

If the idea of light fields in an augmented-reality headset sounds familiar, it may be because the secretive and well-funded startup Magic Leap has been working on such technology for several years now. Back in late 2014, it showed me its then-enormous prototypes, which weren't yet in a working headset; the company has since opened up a little more about the headset it's working on, but it hasn't yet said when it will release a product.

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