Israeli startup Hypervision has developed a VR prototype that could provide a wide field of view in a small form factor.
Conventional VR headsets have a relatively narrow field of view of about 90 degrees. Little has changed in this regard over the past decade. There are devices with a wider field of view, but they are larger and bulkier. Think Pimax headsets or the XTAL devices from Vrigineers.
Hypervision has developed an optical prototype that one day could combine a wide field of view and a relatively small form factor in one device.
The company specializes in developing pancake lenses, and at Displayweek 2023, a trade show for emerging display technologies, it unveiled a rudimentary VR test bench that offers a 240-degree horizontal and 95-degree vertical field of view.
There are (as always) drawbacks
The demo device, called the VR240 Gen 2, consists of LC display oven and oven pancake lenses. The lenses are fused to create a wide field of view. A software ensures a good image across both lenses.
The idea of fusing lenses is not new: Panasonic showed a similar design in 2017. What is new about Hypervision’s demo device is that it uses pancake lenses and small 2.1-inch displays, which could allow a smaller form factor than before, at least in theory.
A drawback of this design is that it consumes significantly more power with four screens, while also generating way more heat. Pancake lenses absorb about ten times as much light as Fresnel lenses. Therefore, the displays need to be very bright.
The demo device lacks heat sinks and cameras for spatial tracking. It remains to be seen how small or large a finished headset with this design can be.
Lynx and others show interest
VR hardware expert and Youtuber Brad Lynch visited the startup’s booth and is largely positive about Hypervision’s technology. Of all the wide-field of view headsets he’s tried so far, he said this one made the best impression yet, despite some shortcomings. The seam is noticeable on close inspection, but there is less distortion than he’s used to from other devices. An even wider field of view could be achieved with better displays, Lynch says.
VR startups Somnium Space, Lynx and VRgineers have shown interest in the technology and invested an undisclosed sum in Hypervision. So it’s quite possible that the optics solution will appear in a new headset from these manufacturers.
More technical details about VR240 Gen 2 can be found in the group’s announcement gold we Hypervision’s official website. The following video is also from Display Week 2023 and was recorded by tech video blogger Charbax.