Holographic optic to advance augmented reality

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A new British company has developed a holographic optical component that could advance the development of augmented reality devices. The component, which incorporates two holograms, allows users to overlay information onto their normal line of sight so that it interacts with their surroundings.

The optic has been developed by London-based TruLife Optics, a spin out from established holographic technology company Colour Holographic.

Using the optic, images can be displayed in high definition, full colour, in perfect focus and in 3D through the centre of a field of vision. Critically the image is transparent, meaning information can be overlaid onto whatever subject seeing.

Jonathan Lewis, chief executive of TruLife Optics, said: ‘The development of wearable augmented reality devices has been curtailed by the lack of an optical component that allows for the genuine overlay of high-definition, full colour and transparent images over the field of vision. With the launch of our first commercially available optic, we provide that missing piece in the augmented reality jigsaw puzzle.’

TruLife Optics will work alongside developers of augmented reality devices to provide customised, bespoke solutions based on its technology.

Its first product to be supplied to the developer community consists of a glass waveguide, approximately 10cm long, 3cm wide and 2.8mm in thickness, which contains two postage stamp sized holograms. The light is transmitted into the first hologram and then turned 90 degrees through the length of the waveguide, via total internal reflection, before hitting the second hologram and being turned a further 90 degrees so it is projected into the human eye.

This allows for overlaid transparent images to be projected from the centre of the optic in perfect focus.

The technology has been developed by TruLife Optics in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, London.

Simon Hall, lead scientist, adaptive optics at NPL, said: ‘Together with the TruLife Optics team, we have created a genuinely game-changing technology that will lead to the acceleration in the development of augmented reality devices and applications.’