Facebook just demonstrated what they claim is the world’s thinnest VR headset

Looking at this rudimentary prototype, one wouldn’t assume that a device so thin could be Facebook’s new stab at a consumer-grade VR headset. The company only recently announced it would be terminating sales and support of Oculus Go, its affordable VR headset… and that left a pretty obvious void in Oculus’s catalog of products. The creative minds sitting in Facebook’s Reality Labs (FRL), however, have been working on making VR headsets less clunky/bulky, and more like something you’d want to carry around and wear at work or at home.

Demonstrated at this year’s virtual SIGGRAPH conference, Facebook Reality Lab’s latest prototype VR wearable is, to mildly put it, ridiculously thin, measuring at just around 9mm. Designed to look like a pair of wayfarers, these glasses actually hold display units inside them, and Facebook’s research in viewing optics technology has helped them condense the headset from something that feels like a toaster strapped to your face, to a pair of frames that look like a pretty slick pair of shades.

So how is this even possible? How did Facebook manage to shrink a state-of-the-art headset into something that’s 9mm thick? Well, FB’s research blog’s been kind enough to release a GIF that shows exactly how the spectacles create the illusion of distance between the eyes and the display. It’s sort of similar to how binoculars work, in which mirrors are used to make a beam of light take a longer path within a small chamber. FB’s prototype headset, however, doesn’t use mirrors, but rather relies on a holographic lens. You see, a VR headset has three main components – a source of light (e.g., LEDs), a display panel that brightens or dims the light to form an image (e.g., an LCD panel), and a viewing optic that focuses the image far enough away so that the viewer’s eyes can see it (e.g., a plastic lens). LED and LCD panels can easily be compressed into slim modules that are paper-thin, but the trick has always been to make lenses thinner, and to reduce the large gap between the lens and the image. The prototype headset’s revolutionary holographic lens achieves this impossible feat by not just being thin, but by also creating the illusion of distance in a way that feels like the screen, that’s literally right in front of you, is a couple of feet away (there’s a demo GIF below too). This headset, for now, exists only in a prototype stage as the guys at Facebook’s Reality Labs try to work out the kinks in the design, from creating LED/LCD panels that are high-resolution and eye-strain-free, to accommodating other components like chipsets and batteries into the headset’s slim design.

“While it points toward the future development of lightweight, comfortable, and high-performance AR/VR technology, at present our work is purely research. In our technical paper, we identify the current limitations of our proposed display architecture and discuss future areas of research that will make the approach more practical. To our knowledge, our work demonstrates the thinnest VR display demonstrated to date, and we’re excited to see what the future holds”, say the guys at FRL.

Designer: Facebook Reality Labs

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Rumors of the 2020 iPhone 12 hint at a flat-edge design inspired by the iconic iPhone 4

When I see these renders float around the twitterverse, I don’t take them as entirely sacrosanct, but I don’t completely reject them either. Apple has, over the past few years, developed a very sound strategy to selectively leak its product designs just to help keep the hype and buzz going. By the time we’re a few months away from the actual launch, the internet has already painted a reasonably accurate picture of the phone Tim Cook’s about to unveil… even down to its color options!

Created by concept-designer Aziz Ghaus, this is perhaps the best representation of the upcoming iPhone 12, which is all set to launch this year around October-November. The iPhone gets a design-refresh every 2-3 years, and given that we haven’t seen much of a design change since the iPhone X debuted in 2017, this year might be the year the iPhone gets a makeover. Its new design isn’t a radical deviation though… in all honesty, the 2020 iPhone concept borrows a lot from the design language set up by Jony Ive and Steve Jobs (before his unfortunate passing in 2011). The iPhone 12 concept performs a hat-tip to the design of the iconic iPhone 4 and 5, with a flat-edge running around the sides helping break the continuous transition from screen to back. As far as the changes go, there’s also a noticeable update to the camera bump, which now features 4 prominent camera lenses instead of 3. Some may remember this camera bump from the 2020 iPad Pro launch and all indications show that the iPad’s camera layout will make its way to the smartphone, with space for a ToF sensor that’ll help the iPhone 12 perform 3D scanning to support Apple’s ARKit and possibly AR-based games that may roll out in the future.

Some things remain immutable with the iPhone’s design though. The front still looks exactly the same, with the notch design that seems almost exclusive to Apple now, especially since its competitors have moved on to hole-punch cameras. The iPhone 12, from the looks of these renders, will still have FaceID too, a feature that I wonder why Apple hasn’t moved beyond, considering how everyone wears masks nowadays. The new phone also looks like it’ll still sport the lightning port, although prominent Apple insiders and analysts claim that the new iPhone will come without a charging cable and adapter in the box (they’ll need to be bought separately)… although in terms of change, that might be pushing things a bit too far, don’t you think??

Designer: Aziz Ghaus

Picture Credits: @smazizg

Segway’s newest flat-pack e-scooter is the answer for sustainable city-commute

When life as we used to know it resumes, the one thing I wish would not change from the pandemic time period is having lesser street traffic. If you live in a city, you can feel the difference in the air, clarity of the sky, reduced noise, and the fact that you aren’t stressed about driving on congested streets! It has shown us that reducing the number of vehicles on the street has a positive impact on our environment which is also better for our health. Realistically, we can’t keep vehicles off the roads but what we can do is adopt energy-efficient alternatives like Segway’s Ninebot KickScooter Air T15 – easier for your commute and easier on the planet!

This award-winning e-scooter was designed keeping in mind the needs of someone commuting daily in a city. Thus it was made portable, lightweight and since it literally folds in half, it is an extremely convenient option. Segway is already a global leader in electric mobility and they are not only upping their tech but also their design game with this scooter. The Ninebot KickScooter Air T15 is seamless, compact, and minimal in its form. The Air T15 team spent over SIX years (nearly 12,500 hours) perfecting its ergonomic design using the lightest yet the most durable material for a sleek and futuristic aesthetic without compromising on reliability and power.

With one click you can fold the scooter into half and the 6-axis sensor embedded in the dashboard will detect the operation mode which will help to turn the power off automatically. Once folded, you can drag it smoothly like a suitcase with wheels. The body is created using an aluminum-magnesium alloy to keep it lightweight yet strong enough to keep up with its performance needs. The material used makes the scooter splash-proof, corrosion-resistant,  and eco-friendly. One of the features that really make it stand out in terms of being energy efficient is the regenerative braking system that turns your e-scooter into a vehicle powered by electricity by using the recycled energy from riding. The wheels are able to transform the energy that is captured during braking into power and to store it in the integrated lithium battery pack.

We love the attention to detail that the design team has showcased through every element in the scooter. The retractable handlebars cooperate with the smooth, linear design, and the use of silica to make them ensure comfort. It also features a bezel-less monitoring dashboard that is intuitive to use and elevates your commute experience with its integrated design. Continuing on the road to better the UI and UX, the team placed the DIP switches on the rear fender for users to power on/off, control the light, and change the riding modes with ease. For a little fun element, the LED light bar on the front has different color settings while adding functionality to the overall design.

Choose from four riding modes based on your needs and environment – Pedestrian Mode, Energy-saving Mode, Standard Mode and Sport Mode with a preset speed limit of 3.7 mph (6 km/h), 6.2 mph (10 km/h), 9.3 mph (15 km/h), and 12.4 mph (20 km/h) respectively. Keeping with the times, Segway’s Ninebot KickScooter Air T15 comes with its own app that is available on iOS and Android with the integration of Bluetooth connectivity, customize LED ambient light colors, live riding stats dashboard, and more. With a scooter this smooth and smart, you can adapt to environmentally-friendly commuting with ease and actually make your journey to sustainable living fun!

Designer: Segway-Ninebot

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