Microsoft Patent | Auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display

Patent: Auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display

Publication Number: 10192358

Publication Date: 2019-01-29

Applicants: Microsoft

Abstract

In embodiments of an auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display, the display device is implemented with an imaging structure that includes a waveguide for see-through viewing of an environment. The waveguide also transmits light of a virtual image that is generated as a near-display object to appear at a distance in the environment. The imaging structure includes switchable diffractive elements that are integrated in the waveguide and configured in display zones. The switchable diffractive elements are switchable to independently activate the display zones effective to correct for an accurate stereopsis view of the virtual image that appears at the distance in the environment.

Background

Various types of computing, entertainment, and/or mobile devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, can be implemented with a transparent or semi-transparent display through which a user of a device can view the surrounding environment. Further, augmented reality provides that a user can see through the transparent or semi-transparent display of a device to view the surrounding environment, and also see images of virtual objects that are generated for display to appear as a part of the environment. Augmented reality can include any type of input such as audio and haptic inputs, as well as virtual images, graphics, and video that enhances or augments the environment that a user experiences. As an emerging technology, there are challenges and design constraints with augmented reality, particularly with displaying the virtual objects and images on the display of a mobile device so that they appear realistic in the real environment.

Stereopsis is the perception of depth when a person views the environment with normal binocular vision. A person typically sees a slightly different image of the environment with each eye because angles from objects in the environment to the person’s left and right eyes will be different, and the differences provide the cues to determine depth perception. This may also be referred to as a parallax, which is the angle difference in the apparent position of an object as viewed along two different lines of sight, such as from the person’s left eye and from the right eye when viewing the object in the environment. For a far field object, there is typically zero parallax between a device display, as seen by the left and right eyes, and the far field object. However, when objects are closer, there is a parallax between the left and the right eyes.

Waveguide displays can be utilized for see-through augmented reality display devices, such in head-mounted display (HMD) glasses or other wearable display devices that have near-eye display panels as lenses to display a virtual image in an augmented reality environment. In a head-mounted display device, the separate display panels for the left and right eyes can be independently adjusted to provide correct stereopsis cues when viewing a near-field virtual object. However, stereopsis correction is not available for a mobile, handheld device with a single integrated waveguide display without the use of eye wear, such as LCD shutter glasses or polarized glasses. Having to utilize eye wear for corrected binocular vision when using a mobile, handheld device with an augmented reality display does not provide a viable user experience.

Summary

This Summary introduces features and concepts of an auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display, which is further described below in the Detailed Description and/or shown in the Figures. This Summary should not be considered to describe essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor used to determine or limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

An auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display is described. In embodiments, the display device is implemented with an imaging structure that includes a waveguide for see-through viewing of an environment. The waveguide also transmits light of a virtual image that is generated as a near-display object to appear at a distance in the environment. The imaging structure includes switchable diffractive elements that are integrated in the waveguide and configured in display zones. The switchable diffractive elements are switchable to independently activate the display zones effective to correct for an accurate stereopsis view of the virtual image that appears at the distance in the environment.

In embodiments, a computing device, such as a mobile phone or tablet device, is implemented with the auto-stereoscopic augmented reality display, and the computing device includes an imaging controller to independently control activation of the switchable diffractive elements in the display zones of the display device. The switchable diffractive elements that are integrated in the waveguide of the display device can be implemented as Switchable Bragg Gratings that can be switched-on to project the virtual image for display. For example, a representation of the virtual image can be displayed in a first display zone for user viewing with a right eye, and a different representation of the virtual image can be displayed in a second display zone for user viewing with a left eye. The computing device also includes an element drive circuit to selectively activate the switchable diffractive elements in the display zones of the display device based on imaging controller inputs.

In embodiments, the switchable diffractive elements can be configured in sets of stacked elements that are integrated in the display device. Each switchable diffractive element in a set of stacked elements diffracts light of the virtual image in a different field of view, and the different fields of view combine for a sequential field of view that spans an activated display zone. The computing device also includes a camera to capture digital images of the left and right eyes of the user of the computing device, and an eye-tracking system tracks the pupil positions of the left and right eyes based on the digital images. The eye-tracking system can also determine a distance from the left and right eyes to the display device, and determine viewing angles of the left and right eyes to a center of the display device. The imaging controller is implemented to control the activation of the switchable diffractive elements in a display zone based on the pupil positions of the left and right eyes, the distance from the left and right eyes to the display device, and the viewing angles of the left and right eyes to the center of the display device.

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