The Advantages of flexible liquid crystal optics for AR and VR devices
Ross Hookway, Marketing Executive
March 06, 2023
This year’s Mobile World Congress has shown that AR and VR devices are becoming smaller, more powerful, and much less like the cumbersome designs of a few years ago. New materials and technologies are powering these changes, but many devices still rely on glass for optics.
Our flexible liquid crystal (LC) technology can eliminate this need and bring even more design and use-case possibilities to future devices. In this blog we look at four simple advantages of flexible liquid crystal optics for AR and VR.
Removing the need for glass brings an immediate benefit: reduced weight.
Glass-based LC optics have been around for many years, but the weight and thickness of glass are an issue, particularly because—in many cases—each optical module comprises multiple LC cells. Often cells are stacked together to either focus light or to increase lens power. Nearly all the weight and volume added by glass LC cells comes from the glass itself.
Flexible LC optics, at less than 100 microns thick and stackable, can bring the same optical performance at greatly reduced weight cost.
Find out about the importance of weight reduction for VR headsets
Improved designs and new form factors
A design close to ‘traditional’ glasses is the current focus of many manufacturers as component sizes shrink and consumers look for something lightweight and less conspicuous, and flexible LC optics can make this a reality.
In addition, with flexible LC optics’ reduced weight and suitability for biaxial curvature create the potential for form factors that could be suitable for all kinds of use cases. For example, something more akin to a wide visor would allow for a much greater field of view and a vastly different design style and experience. Flexible LC optics can also be built into safety devices such as motorcycle or welding helmets, providing additional AR functionality in addition to protection.
See our view on the future of AR glasses
Enhanced features: Ambient and local dimming, Tunable lenses
As we have discussed in a previous blog, dimming is necessary for AR devices in high-contrast environments, such as outdoors in sunlight – it enhances the visibility of virtual objects.
With tunable lenses, focal distance can be rapidly switched, bringing virtual objects and the environment into focus and removing the uncomfortable effects of the virtual distance and expected distance of an object being different. Adjusting for this is key for long term device wear, as it greatly improves the experience for the user by increasing the visual ‘comfort zone’.
Learn more about dimming and tunable lenses for AR and VR optics
Lower manufacturing and environmental costs
Flexible LC optics are manufactured using plastic such as TAC (Triacetyl cellulose), a bioplastic made from renewable sources that is highly recyclable and biodegradable.
Our manufacturing process is designed to be carried out at far lower temperatures than glass optics (less than 100°C), and can use existing flat panel display production lines, removing the need for new equipment.
Read more about our platform and sustainable manufacturing
A definite advantage
Flexible LC optics can bring these features at virtually no extra weight cost, and enable effective, comfortable VR and AR regardless of environment, device form factor or use case.
If you’d like to know more about our technology, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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