When the human eye focuses on an object or area, our eyes defocus everything else. However, currently available AR and VR devices do not recreate this effect. As a result, users can experience discomfort, headache, fatigue, nausea, and more. CREAL3D, a Switzerland-based startup, wants to change this through light-field technology.
According to the company, “light-field is a missing key to comfortable and fashion-smart eyewear.” Solutions that use this technology project images with real optical depth, allowing eyes to naturally change focus between virtual objects at different distances, complete with the defocusing effect. Apart from removing some of the sickness effects, this also creates a more immersive, real and fluid experience, and, for AR, virtual objects are seamlessly fused into the real world.
“Virtual and augmented reality headsets use flat screens that set the focus distance,” CEO Tomas Sluka explains. “But our eyes must be able to adapt the optical depth to the distance of the objects (clear in front of blur in the bottom, for example).”
As interesting as it sounds, this is not the first time a company uses this technology for AR and VR. In 2017, we wrote about how Avegant’s Light-Field AR technology would compete with Magic Leap and HoloLens. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard any news since then, so the appearance of CREAL3D is welcoming news.
Alternatively, most companies exploring how to imitate the way eyes naturally work are using eye-tracking technology. In 2016’s Oculus Connect 3, Chief Scientist Michael Abrash discussed the challenges to eye-tracking and foveated rendering in a VR headset. Two of the main issues was figuring how to track different eye shapes and the adapting size of the pupils – something that light-field technology doesn’t have to deal with. However, recent reports show how much eye-tracking technology evolved and the advantages it could bring to these headsets.
If light-field technology works as CREAL3D claims, it seems the way to go for both VR and AR. For now, eye-tracking promises a great future. Last year, CREAL3D raised around $1 million and is in the process of raising a $5 million round to further grow the company and its development.