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'3D Light Sculpture' Projected Directly Onto Retina

A lot of different virtual reality displays have been tried; most require special glasses or bulky headsets.


(Projected 3d image)

Magic Leap Inc., is trying a different approach, using a digital light field. Unlike a conventional digital stereo image, which comes from projecting two slightly displaced images with different colors and brightness, Magic Leap says its digital light field encodes more information about a scene to help the brain make sense of what it is looking at, including the scattering of light beams and the distance of objects.

Magic Leap and other researchers in the field say that digital light fields will circumvent visual and neurological problems by providing viewers with depth cues similar to the ones generated by natural objects.

Magic Leap claims to have solved the resolution challenge with a proprietary technology that projects an image, which it describes as a “3-D light sculpture,” onto the viewer’s retina. Rony Abovitz, a biomedical engineer who founded Mako Surgical, a successful robotic surgery company, before creating Magic Leap in 2010, said that his system would even offer a resolution close to the power of the human eye.

Virtual- and augmented-reality aficionados foresee a world in which conventional computer screens and televisions are obsolete, and it is possible to project lifelike animations into meetings anywhere. They describe a next generation of technology beyond personal computing and smartphones based on a new set of approaches they call “perceptual computing.”

“Playing games is the dessert,” Mr. Abovitz said. “Our real market is people doing everyday things. Rather than pulling your mobile phone in and out of your pocket, we want to create an all-day flow; whether you’re going to the doctor or a meeting or hanging out, you will all of a sudden be amplified by the collective knowledge that is on the web.”

Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth wrote about this idea about sixty years ago in their still memorable 1952 novel The Space Merchants.

...soon we'll be testing a system that projects directly on the retina of the eye...
(Read more about retinal projector)

Update: Thanks to @panther_modern, I've learned that Google has invested over $500 million in Magic Leap.

Google is leading a huge $542 million round of funding for the secretive startup Magic Leap, which is said to be working on augmented reality glasses that can create digital objects that appear to exist in the world around you. Though little is known about what Magic Leap is working on, Google is placing a big bet on it: in addition to the funding, Android and Chrome leader Sundar Pichai will join Magic Leap's board, as will Google's corporate development vice-president Don Harrison. The funding is also coming directly from Google itself — not from an investment arm like Google Ventures — all suggesting this is a strategic move to align the two companies and eventually partner when the tech is more mature down the road.

Magic Leap's technology currently takes the shape of something like a pair of glasses, according to The Wall Street Journal. Rather than displaying images on the glasses or projecting them out into the world, Magic Leap's glasses reportedly project their image right onto their wearer's eyes — and apparently to some stunning effects.

"It was incredibly natural and almost jarring — you’re in the room, and there’s a dragon flying around, it’s jaw-dropping and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face," Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Pictures

From NYTime.

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