Though we have witnessed many great strides in advancing Mixed Reality technology, some hardware limitations still present a roadblock. Acer’s OJO 500 offers its share of innovation by offering the first detachable device, but Microsoft is going a little more in-depth. Its newest patent involves a brilliant take on improving MR display refresh rates.
Mixed Reality is not without its problems. More users than what could be brushed off as isolated incidents reported the feeling of nausea after using MR or VR devices for an extended period of time. Device wrapped around head, all we ever see is the display in front of our eyes. And to present images in all their opulence, MR displays require refresh rate of at least 90Hz. This has proved to be too unrealistic (read expensive) for the time being, so the majority of AR and MR screens are being notched to 60Hz.
Low refresh rate is also the reason why there is still some lag between actual motion and MR/VR image. Microsoft took up the issue and approached it with their well-attested ingenuity. Rather than producing a higher rate MR display, Microsoft’s new patent took and turned what was essentially 60Hz screen to a whooping 120Hz refresh rate. The result is a new screen which makes MR more consistently mixed.
Brian Guetner, the Microsoft Research Principal Researcher, led the team behind the brilliant invention. Inconspicuously dubbed ‘Increasing effective update rate for device displays used in Augmented Reality head mount devices’ the patent is derived from a simple observation on how our eyes perceive the drawn image. MR displays, such as they are today, are of a single piece but are not spreading the image uniformly. Top to bottom, left to right, or vice versa, the generated image does not appear instantly across the screen. There is a lag of sorts; on a 60 Hz MR display one eye will perceive the image exactly 8.3 milliseconds after the other.
Microsoft takes this lag into account and puts it to good use. What the patent essentially comes down to is generating images for both eyes separately with the 8.3 millimeter time difference. Each eye, rather than waiting for a millimeters old image to appear every 60th part of a second, receives a new one every 120th chunk of a second. If they manage to implement the patent into the upcoming HoloLens 2 or some other head mount device, Microsoft will be dully credited with greatly upping the MR display technology.
MR display refresh rate is not the only ground issue Microsoft is currently looking into. The patents filed back in April show that Microsoft has sorted out the FOV issue, another problem that’s been plaguing HoloLens. The method used is strikingly similar – splitting an image in two before combining them again. What is most encouraging about these innovations is that these are both the simplest of solutions. It is the creativity that counts, not the technology. Both innovations go on to show that Mixed Reality industry is teeming with vitality and fresh ideas.