Stanford researchers might have just discovered the future of Augmented Reality

Stanford researchers might have just discovered the future of Augmented Reality
AR (Augmented Reality) glasses is something many would like to see come to life. In fact, Meta is hard at work on its own pair of AR glasses it claims are going to be revolutionary. But Stanford might just have one-upped Meta at its own game.

Stanford’s Computational Imaging Lab is apparently working on a “stack of holographic components” that can be fitted into your standard glasses frame. This technology, they claim, can project realistic imagery and video in 3D.

The other major benefit of this method is that it is very compact. Though in the early stages of development at the moment, the team at Stanford believes they’re on to something big here. This technology, they think, has the potential to be adopted mainstream for AR glasses in the future.

— Manu Gopakumar et al., Nature, May 2024

The current prototype at Stanford is very early tech. Its field of view is an abysmal 11.7 degrees. For context, the Meta Quest 3 has a field of view of 110 degrees. And humans, with both eyes in use, have a field of view of around 180 degrees.

The paper uses some big words to describe how the technology works and there’s lots of mathematical equations involved. In very simple terms, metasurface waveguides (thin, transparent layers) inside the frame are used to guide light with extremely high precision. AI algorithms are then used to improve the final result.

It’s all very fascinating stuff, but does it actually have the potential to become mainstream? Honestly, I think it’s too early to tell. The tech looks promising but let’s wait and see what Meta is cooking up. This tech does give me hope for AR contact lenses. Though I presume we’re decades away from such a thing.

And until we get these AR glasses of the future you can make do with today’s best AR headsets instead. Mixed Reality is quite cool, so I think you’ll also appreciate this list of the best MR games available today.
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