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

The future of EDC is slim and sleek too

Face it, we’ve got slim TVs, slim phones, slim tablets, slim laptops, all because processors are getting more and more compact, and microchips are now at a thickness that can only be measured in nanometers. That trend is bound to spill over into the rest of our lives too, right? Imagine the dissonance of having to carry a phone that’s 7mm thick, and then an absolutely overloaded wallet that’s practically near 2 centimeters in thickness.

Truly a wallet of the 21st century, the Turner Wallet from Andar measures a meager 4mm when empty, and expands to not more than 6-7 mm, when filled with cards and cash. The card-sized, card-shaped wallet is perfectly handy, fitting comfortably into palms and pockets alike. It comes with a slot for banknotes, a slot for visiting cards, and a dedicated space for as many as 8 payment cards with a nifty quick-draw-tab that allows the cards to pop out of their slot, ready for you to use. The Turner wallet (aptly named for the way it marks a turning point for wallet design) is a modern-age combination of stylish and utilitarian. It ditches the thick bifold-with-coin-case design because payments have evolved with time. Still built to hold a few banknotes, the Turner is accommodating, and does so without making your pocket feel heavy or giving it the unsightly bulge that wallets of yesteryear tend to do. Made from full-grain leather, the Turner even comes with an RFID-blocking construction that protects your cards from digital theft or fraud, and sports four distinct tanned looks that go remarkably well with its impeccable full-grain leather construction!

Designer: Andar

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