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The Holographic Augmented Reality Future Has Arrived (Again)

TruLife Optics makes an impressive pitch to both developers and augmented reality boosters.

Michael Byrne

Michael Byrne

The NPL's Simon Hall/National Physics Laboratory

A team of UK engineers is advertising the development of a first-of-its-kind wearable display device using properly holographic, interactive imagery. The group is part of the recently-launched TruLife Optics firm, and the new advances, described in this week's edition of Physics World, are part of its collaboration with the UK's National Physical Laboratory. The system is so-far being marketed to augmented reality-geared developers, who can purchase a set-up for £360, and TruLife already has a "developer's corner" live on its website. This is hardly a distant future, and it would appear that today's version of Google Glass is poised to become the Microsoft Zune of tomorrow's augmentation wearables.

Here's the full pitch:

The system works as a combination of a small rectangular "waveguide" (or lens) and a pair of postage stamp-sized holograms. "In the team's device, incoming images from a microdisplay are routed into the first hologram, where the light is turned 90° through the length of the waveguide, via total internal reflection," Tushna Commissariat reports in PW. "Then the light hits the second hologram, where it is turned a further 90° so it is projected into the human eye. This means that the overlaid transparent images are projected from the centre of the device into the eye and are perfectly focused."

The holographic technique has the distinct advantage of being small enough to port across to most any existing eyewear, according to its creators. And it's certainly a world away from its holographic competition. Meta's SpaceGlasses, which are anything but inconspicuous. That said, given the current (over)emphasis on wearables, it's anyone's guess what the dominant, paradigm-setting technology will wind up being even just a few years down the road, TruLife's proprietary waveguide emulsions notwithstanding.