AR and VR optics

Our conformable active optical films can rapidly focus and modulate light with almost no additional weight or thickness.

Virtual realityAR and VR headsets need active optics that can rapidly adjust focus and light modulation to increase realism, but the weight, thickness and flatness of additional glass-based components is prohibitive. FlexEnable’s liquid crystal (LC) cells built on ultra-thin bioplastic films bring functionality such as tunable lenses and pixelated ambient dimming with almost no additional weight or thickness and can curve to the 3D contour of fixed optics. The uniquely stackable nature of our approach offers game-changing optical performance through multi-functional stacks just a few hundred microns thick.

AR and VR optics diagram


Tunable lens diagram

Tunable LC lenses

In AR and VR headsets, virtual objects can be placed at different perceived depths and the brain instinctively focuses the eye at the expected depth. However, this causes the virtual object to appear blurred when the actual image depth is different to the perceived depth. This so called vergence-accommodation conflict can be overcome with tunable LC lenses which allow the depth of the image to be rapidly adjusted to match the perceived depth, thereby increasing realism. FlexEnable’s tunable LC lenses are a breakthrough technology resulting in the thinnest, lightest tunable LC lenses, weighing less than 1 gram, and can be biaxially formed around other fixed optical components in the stack.

LC cells - ambient dimming

Ambient Dimming

In AR headsets, virtual objects need to be overlaid onto the real world, but real-world conditions change depending on whether the user is inside or outside on a sunny day, where brightness can change by several orders of magnitude. To ensure that the virtual image remains realistically blended with real world conditions with high contrast, the ability to adjust the perceived brightness of the real world is needed. FlexEnable has developed a range of ultra-thin, lightweight flexible tintable films that can be biaxially formed to follow the curvature of the visor or other optical components in AR headsets. In addition, the films can be segmented or pixelated into an active matrix, to give even greater control, and allowing black regions to be included in the projected image.

These ultra-thin conformable active optical films can be combined and augmented with OTFT circuitry to produce a unique set of advanced active optical effects that can manipulate the path of light through surfaces in a multitude of ways.

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