Microsoft has patented a new Hologram technology. New Microsoft patent would make Holograms less ghostly. The most prominent visible features of the Microsoft HoloLens is the light shade in front of the lenses, designed to reduce the intensity of outside light and thereby make the holograms generated by the light field lenses more visible. But still, the hologram gets washed out by ambient light and take on a ghostly appearance. The solution is to selectively dim the outside world in the areas that are superimposed by the hologram, thereby preventing the holograms from being overpowered by the outside world.
If you have used Microsoft’s HoloLens, then you might have noticed that ambient light from the outer world overpowers the hologram which gives it a ghostly effect. This is due to the light shade in front of the lenses. Which are designed to reduce the intensity of outside light and thereby make the holograms generated by the light field lenses more visible. But still, it has been noticed that even this light shade cannot be enough to prevent holograms from being washed out by ambient light and take on a ghostly appearance.
Near-eye display (NED) devices used for example in augmented reality are ideal for use both indoors and outdoors. However, ambient illumination levels span a wide range, from 10 lux in dim interiors to 120,000 lux in outdoor direct sunlight. NED devices must insure AR hologram visibility for all ambient brightness levels. However, as NED devices are used in increasingly brighter environments, e.g. outdoors, display power consumption can become problematic. Even at high power levels, AR holograms may appear washed out in comparison to real world objects in the bright ambient environment. Additionally, especially in bright environments, real world objects and backgrounds may be visible through the AR hologram, giving them a ghostly, less realistic appearance. Moreover, some external light sources passing through NED viewing optics can be optically transformed into visible artifacts that may appear as brightly colored rainbows and/or colored ghosts.
Solution to this problem, Microsoft has come up with an idea which might solve the problem. The solution does not involve cranking up the brightness of the hologram. But the smart solution is to dim the outside world in the areas that are superimposed by the hologram, thereby preventing the holograms from being overpowered by the outside world.
Embodiments of the present technology relate to a system and method for controlling an amount of ambient light transmitted to the eye of a wearer through an NED device. Embodiments of the present technology may include both passive and active components for controlling transmitted light. A passive component may comprise a photochromic coating applied to a visor of the NED device. The photochromic coating may be responsive to UV light, for example from sunlight, to darken and limit the amount of light which passes through the visor.
An active component may comprise a bi-layer monochromatic dimming panel assembly positioned behind hologram forming optical assemblies. The dimming panel assembly can reduce ambient light viewed through the NED device indoors or outdoors. A pixel level opacity mask may be developed each frame which may be used by the dimming panel assembly to form dark masks behind augmented reality (AR) holograms and semi-dark masks that create the appearance of drop shadows. The positions of bright light sources in a scene can also be identified, and those positions defined in the pixel level opacity mask so that the dimming panel assembly can block light from those bright light sources.
In short, they will be using a cheap monochromatic LCD panel which can selectively dim at different levels. It can also use a system to identify which particular pixels coincide with the generated hologram and just dim those pixels. Which will indeed make the hologram more vibrant and real looking. The panel could even be used to generate realistic drop shadows.
This new technology will also reduce the costing of the Microsoft’s HoloLens. Microsoft also suggests the use of a photochromic layer on the larger light shield which would respond interactively to the intensity of the outside light, becoming much darker when outside and more transparent when inside, when such a high level of protection is not needed.
Microsoft is expected to launch its new and cheaper HoloLens 2 in early 2019. Let us see if it comes with this new innovation and when it finally arrives.