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Glass wafer redesign expands field of view in AR, MR apps

15 May 2019

Latest Schott RealView high-index wafers enable more "deeply immersive" augmented and mixed reality experiences.

Manufacturers of Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR) devices have a new solution to boost user experience by using the new generation of Schott's RealView high-index glass wafers with a refractive index of 1.9. Deeply immersive AR/MR applications are now possible, enabled by a wider field of view (fov) of up to 65 degrees.

Schott’s researchers say they have achieved these advances by designing a glass formulation meeting the particular demands of the industry. The firm's Augmented Reality team will be available for technical discussions at Display Week 2019, in San Jose, California, from May 14th to 16th.

RealView is a range of optical glass wafers designed for the realization of consumer-grade smart glasses. The new product enables a fov wider than any AR device currently on the market, thanks to a further increased refractive index of 1.9. Now, devices with a horizontal fov of 53° (equal to 65° fov diagonal) can be envisioned.

“Full immersion experience is the promise of the AR/MR industry. To realize this, software developers need to have access to an unrestricted field of view enabled by the technical ability to place the virtual content anywhere within the human’s natural area of vision,” commented Ruediger Sprengard, VP, Business Field Augmented Reality at Schott.

“But even the most advanced smart glasses on the market cannot yet provide this experience, as their field of view is only about 40° horizontally – limited by the highest refractive index of the image guiding substrate available on the market – even when using our initial product generation launched last year.”

During last year’s SID, the company unveiled the first generation of RealView after years of research and development in cooperation with AR hardware makers. Compared to conventional glass wafers used in semiconductor and sensor industry, RealView wafers define a new standard in thickness uniformity of the surface (10x tighter tolerances) and are based on leading edge glass compositions.

Higher refractive index

The wafering technology developed, enables access to a heritage of 135 years of optical glass with an active portfolio of more than 120 different materials. Schott’s optical glass melting and hot forming process can fulfill the demanding requirements for highest purity, homogeneity, and consistency in refractive index. All wafers are available in industry standard large diameters.

Schott's material scientists designed the new glass properties to be compatible with melting in mass production and for high efficiency in wafer processing, resulting in uncompromised wafer properties for waveguide based AR/MR devices – and with a significantly higher refractive index, says the company.

The company produces the optical glass at its high-tech melting facilities in Mainz, Germany to ensure unparalleled quality. Wafer manufacturing and optical coating takes place in China, where Schott has set-up a new factory already ramped-up to mass production due to a noticeably heavier industry demand.

The first generation of RealView received a 2019 Display Industry Award as a Display Component of the Year from the Society of Information Display, SID. Beside Schott, the winner list includes products from Apple, Samsung, Sony, Dexerials, Japan Display, and Lenovo.


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