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Karl Guttag on Technology

�2019 KGOnTech LLC � NOTE: All Views and opinions are those of Karl Guttag and not

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Test Patterns

CES 2019 � AR and other Interesting Display Technology

January 24, 2019KarlGAugmented Reality and HMD, DLP, HUD, Laser Beam Scanning
Projectors, Laser Projection, LCOS, Micro-LED, OLED, Pico Projection, Startups, Use
I had another busy four days a CES this year, followed by catching a lingering cold
and having a business trip. So, I am just starting to write about what I saw at
CES. There are about 20 companies that I visited and want to write about in future
articles (some of my meetings were confidential).

Inbetween seein demos of various AR and display hardware, I was feeling around and
confirming suspicions for what technology Microsoft is using in the next Hololens,
which is expected to be announced soon. I have some answers to reveal in an
upcoming article.

Below are summaries of some of the more interesting thing I saw at CES 2019. While
I mostly concentrated on AR headsets, I did looks as some other displays
technologies. I hope to circle back to provide more detail about these products in
future articles.

Notable Things I Saw (That I Can Talk About)

Nreal � Blowing away Magic Leap on Image Quality with a Very Simple Design

Nreal Side View

Nreal caused a lot of buzz in the AR hall, and I have had multiple people ask me
about them since. They have a very simple �birdbath optical� design with a Sony
1080p Micro-OLED display. The optical design is very similar to ODG R9 from CES
2017, but lighter and with significantly fewer reflection artifacts as far as I
could tell with my brief experience.

Nreal Through Optics (hand held taken by KGOnTech)

Nreal light throughput only ~10%

With a former Magic Leap person founding the company and system configuration, the
comparisons are inevitable. Regarding image quality, Nreal blows away Magic Leap or
Hololens with much higher resolution, better contrast, and no field sequential
artifacts. The one area where Nreal is lacking is regarding real-world light
throughput, which I roughly measured to be only 10% where Magic Leap is 15%,
Hololens is about 40%, Lumus Vision 1080p and Vuzix�s Blade are about 80%
transparent to the real-world.

Plessey (with Vuzix) and Lumens LED MicroLED Microdisplays, a Glimpse of the Future
Plessey and Lumens LED were both showing MicroLED microdisplays on the floor of
CES. Many, myself included, believe that MicroLEDs are key to the future of near-
eye displays and displays in general. They have many technical advantages over all
other types of displays. The question becomes when they will become practical for
mass use.
Vuzix had a demo with a fixed image, blue only, Plessey MicroLED display. The
projector optics were impressively small and was about �� by �� by � in (12mm x
12mm x 6mm). As the demo was quickly put together for the show and Vuzix had not
had time to optimize it, I was not allowed to published pictures, but I did have
permission to report I had seen it. Vuzix had grafted a tiny display engine that
was only about a � inch on a side and a quarter inch thick onto Vuzix�s Blade
waveguide. It certainly demonstrates the promise of MicroLEDs.

Lumens 1080p green MicroLED microdisplay

Lumens LEDs had working individual Red, Green, and Blue 720p microdisplays that
were combined with an X-Cube to make a projector I reported on last year at CES

For CES 2019, Lumens was also demonstrating a working green (only) 1080p device.
They had the device on a table in their booth showing a live video feed and was
able to take a direct picture of the device.

CREAL3D Honest to Goodness True Light Field Displays

CREAL3D was demonstrating an honest to goodness true light field near-eye display
and not the fictitious marketing hype �digital light fields� by the likes of Magic
Leap. CREAL3D was hidden in the back of the Swiss pavilion, and ROADTOVR has
written a good article including links to some stills and videos. It�s sad we have
to add the word �true� in front of �light field� to distinguish CREAL3D and others
like Fovi3D (with a direct view light field display) from the charlatans, like
Rony Abovitz of Magic Leap, who abuse the meaning of well-defined concepts.

I first learned about CREAL3D at CES 2018 in a private meeting. They had a
fascinating but crude green-only demo to prove that it was a true light field
display. It was nice to see the progress they have made with a full-color demo this

The size of CREAL3D�s demonstration is because it is still on an �optical

breadboard� complete with a large metal plate with optics fixtures screwed into it.
While I�m not sure whether CREAL3D�s technology can be reduced to a head-worn form
factor that they claim and the resolution and other image quality aspects improved
using new display devices, it is one of the more technically interesting things I
have ever seen in display technology.

WaveOptics Waveguide Based Compact Headset

Rokid using WaveOptics� 40 Degree FOV waveguide

WaveOptics had a good demonstration of a series of compact diffractive waveguides

using TI-DLP based displays. They showed a 40-degree FOV 720p headset with the
display over the eyes and lower resolution 25-degree FOV with the displays in the
temples. Both designs were very compact relative to other waveguide designs I have

WaveOptics 40 degree FOV waveguides have been designed into Rokid�s Project Aurora

WayRay Automotive HUD with a Flat True Hologram Wavelength Selectable Mirror (and
Eyelight�s HUD)

WayRay was demonstrating a true hologram mirror automotive HUD display. Once again,
I need to emphasize the word �true� to distinguish it from Microsoft�s Hololens
�marketing in name only� holograms. I was expecting it to be yet another �Pepper�s
ghost� effect but was pleased to find it was a flat hologram acting as a curved
color wavelength selectable mirror. Hyundai is planning on incorporating WayRay�s
HUD technology into future automobiles. They use a TI-DLP illuminated by lasers to
produce a narrow color bandwidth image to make the hologram work well.

Eyelights in the French Pavilion was nice enough to take me for a test drive with
their aftermarket HUD for cars. Eyelights has a very bright and ruggedized flat
panel display with a simple semi-mirror combiner sheet that sticks to the

Eyelights�s design is in market contrast to WayRay�s HUD. While Eyelight provides a

very good and easy to see image even in most daylight conditions, it requires a
large dark patch on the windshield, and which may run afoul some some state�s
safety codes that limit blocking the view out the windshield. As the picture above
demonstrates, it does not move the focus of the image out into the user�s far
vision. WayRay�s use of holograms and a laser illuminated DLP projector supports a
much more transparent view of the real world and moves the focus of the HUD image
into the drivers far vision.

North Focals � Thin Form Factor and Lousy Image Quality Laser Beam Scanning
North�s Focals laser beam scanning glasses that I wrote about a few months back, on
the other hand, managed to fall below my worst expectations. Amazon invested in
North Focals which is why they were in the Amazon showcase area at CES and garnered
a lot of publicity.

North�s image quality was horrible any way you would care to measure it, low
resolution, poor contrast, tiny eye box, and a smudge you look through. When asked
about brightness, the response was, �we don�t talk about brightness� which I
translate to mean �it is not very good.� As I am fond of saying, �missing spec�s
are usually ones that are not good.�

It has a tiny eyebox which means you not only have to have the glasses custom
fitted, but you must wear them in an exact position or else you see a double image
or no image at all. When the display is off, you are left looking through a smudge
in your glasses. With a claimed 10-degree field of view, low contrast, and low
resolution, a person would be infinitely better off with a smartwatch. North claims
they are selling well and will be opening up more custom fit stores soon, let�s
just say I am very skeptical. All I can say is, �Amazon, call me first before
throwing money at dubious display technology.�

Microvision was a ShowStoppers No-Show.

I made a special trip to see Microvision at the ShowStoppers event at the Wynn.
Unfortunately, Microvision had pulled out of the event that day. The ShowStoppers
staff told me that Microvision had tried to set up their demos but claimed that the
room lights caused problems and left. I don�t know if it was the amount of light or
some other problem, but Microvision decided it was better not to show.

Microvision demos were supposed to be, according to their news release, for an
�Interactive Display Engine� and high-resolution Lidar for depth sensing including
automobiles. The interactive Display engine consists, according to their marketing
material and videos, of a projector shooting onto a tabletop with time of flight
(ToF) detection of very simple interaction. This application is inferior in just
about every way to a touchscreen both regarding display quality and for
interaction/touch-interface. They should stick a fork in this concept because it is
long past being a done (see also my comments on similar concepts from Bosch and ASU

I don�t follow the Lidar market, so I don�t know how their unit compares to the
many other companies working on Lidar with both laser scanning.

Syndiant Demonstrates True 4K LCOS Field Sequential Microdisplay

Even though it was my old company, I was surprised to see a demonstration of a true
4K LCOS microdisplay. Once again, I�m using the word �true� to distinguish it from
the displays that use a lower pixel count display and then optically shift it. The
display has 4K (3840 by 2048 pixel) pixel-mirrors with very small 3.2-micron pixel
pitch. They were demonstrating on the floor both near-to-eye optics and in a

Raontech Demonstrates WQHD (2560�1440 pixel) display.

Raontech was demonstrating their WQHD (2506�1440) field sequential color LCOS
microdisplay. They also made a point to show me that they no longer had the
asymmetry I discussed in my article on the Lumus 1080p engine.

Bosch, ASU, and Microvision Projecting on Table/Counter Tops � Why?

Bosch (using TI DLP), ASU (using Syndiant�s LCOS), and Microvision (using their
laser beam scanning � see above) were all showing Kitchen Countertop or Speaker on
Table projectors. I don�t understand the use model for this type of application. It
looks to me like it will only work (and not that well) in contrived demo setups.

All of these systems will have washed out pictures in good lighting and require a
surface that can double as a decent projector screen. The typical tabletop or
countertop hardly makes a good screen even when new, no less when it has been
scratched from use.

Hisense Dual LCD TV and Laser TV

Hisense Dual LCD TV looks like it could have a big future Hisense sandwiched at 4K
color LCD on top of a 1080p black and white LCD to give an LCD panel OLED like
blacks while supporting higher peak brightness using Quantum Dots. While using two
LCDs in-series has been theorized for years as a way to give high contrast, Hisense
has figured out how to make it. I would not be surprised to see other companies,
particularly Samsung with their QLEDs adopting similar methods. For more
information, I would suggest the Display Daily article on the Hisense Dual LCD.

Hisense was also one of several companies showing a very short throw �Laser TV.�
Compared with the image quality and relatively low cost of LCD and even OLED TVs,
the short throw laser projector TV seems to me too little, too late. Hisense was
using a high gain and light rejecting screen, which helps but also resulted in hot-
spotting and limiting the viewing angle. It might have been a great product 10
years ago.

Lemnis Vergence/Accommodation Software

Lemnis is developing software for vergence/accommodation. They are hardware

agnostic and have been working on using eye tracking that controls the focus
adjusting hardware. They had a working demonstration in their suite. The demo
demonstrates using eye tracking to detect the eye�s vergence and then control a
focusing mechanism in the optics.

Coming Soon
I plan to follow up with a more detailed articles on some of the products
highlighted above. Also as stated above, I am working on a description of what I
think the next Hololens is and is not going to be using for their new design
expected sometime in 2019, reportedly as early as Mobile World Congress 2019).

I would like to thank Ron Padzensky for reviewing and making corrections to this

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Mark Harward says:
January 24, 2019 at 4:09 pm
Karl, Thank you for sharing your observations and expert comments.
I�d like to shout out congratulations to the Syndiant team for the true 4K
Also, major kudos to the Vuzix and NReal teams.
Looking forward to your next posts.

moreteavicar says:
January 24, 2019 at 4:47 pm
Karl, thanks for you nice brief summary, hope you get well soon. Always interesting
to see that Syndiant and Raontech are still making new panels, but why oh why do
they insist on making such wide aspect ratios?! It makes it harder to increase
vertical FOV, let alone ignores the fundamentals of projector design where a square
panel is far more efficient to illuminate, after which you can recover the desired
aspect ratio with anamorphic prisms if needed. The problem with the AR industry is
that too many electronics engineers / none-optical people are trying to determine
the components that make up the optics, with the consequences that lead to
unnecessary compromises in image performance. To anyone reading this, if you�re one
of them� take note! ??

KarlG says:
January 24, 2019 at 7:03 pm
They are being driven by customers that want HDTV aspect ratios. Of all the display
technologies, LCOS must be the easiest to change the aspect ratio. If their
customers wanted 4:3 or some other more square ratio, like Magic Leap, they would
build them. It sounds like Magic Leap got a custom size device from Omnivision.

The whole AR market for Microdisplays (thus not counting the �cell phone plus large
bug-eye combiner�) must be less than 200KU per year. Hololens, for example, is said
to only sell about 25K units per year and I am hard pressed to find someone selling
more than them. I suspect most of the microdisplay company sales are still in small
projectors more than headsets. While they hope that future sales will come from
headsets, they are not seeing enough to drive them to build custom displays. They
would be happy to wack off the ends of say a 1080P display and give you say 1440 by
1080 pixels if someone would pay for it.

moreteavicar says:
January 25, 2019 at 6:04 am
Karl, yes you�re right, and customers with deep pockets � although often the
decision makers are not optical designers� And again, even in compact projectors,
the system can be made more efficient with square rather than rectangular displays�
but of course its the tradeoff of cost: added prisms to recover 16:9 vs some light
loss. However � with the increasing ubiquity of large area emissive display
screens, projector sales are also in rapid decline, so they should keep an eye on
other applications (perhaps as dynamic holographic optical elements in medical
applications having the most future potential for LCOS).

KarlG says:
January 25, 2019 at 7:50 am
There seems to be more of a desire for small projectors in the parts of Asia if the
manufacturers are to be believed. But I agree, that the long term prospects for
projectors are not good (note my comments about the counter-/table- top projectors.

The problem with the other applications you mention is that while they might be
interesting lab products, they don�t buy many units. Without volume sales, its
impossible to sustain a component business.

Mike says:
January 24, 2019 at 5:10 pm
Nreal & magic leap � it seems fairly obvious how similar nreal and magic leap are
in design with their processing pack and controller..considering nreal was founded
by an ex magic leap engineer wouldn�t magic leap sue nreal at least to stop them
from selling in the US? Surprised magic leap hasn�t taken any legal action on an ex
employee making a similar headset and now trying to get into the US market (magic
leap probably doesn�t care about China but seems like they should stop them from
the US)?

KarlG says:
January 24, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Magic Leap has been pretty litigious against other former employees, so we will
have to see. But then again, there may be nothing that special or patentable in
what Magic Leap did over say Hololens. There have been a lot of AR headsets in the
past that had a computer and battery separate from the headset and having a
controller is obvious. What Magic Leap MIGHT be able to claim is that they used
inside information to get a jump on designing the product, but I don�t know what
deal they had or the timing. The optics are totally different from Magic Leap and
very like ODG�s. Short of a patent that should have been hard to get, it would seem
tough to stop anyone else today.

moreteavicar says:
January 25, 2019 at 6:07 am
It would also be foolish take action until the infringing party was actually making
money from your invention.

KarlG says:
January 25, 2019 at 7:45 am
That is generally true with patent infringement, but less so if the issue is a
trade secret.

The reason that they aggressively pursue former employee may be an indirect form of
non compete. The �shoot a few prisoners and the rest will fall in line� philosophy
and/or simple ego spite.

Mitsubashi says:
January 24, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Thank you for your review! Did you take a look at DigiLens Crystal? How was Vuzix�s
other closed door demos? Do WaveOptic devices have a huge eye box like they
Can�t wait to see your prediction of Hololens2

KarlG says:
January 24, 2019 at 7:15 pm
I did not get a chance to see Digilens at CES but hope to in a couple of weeks at
Photonics West. I have seen them in the past and from my experience, their older
designs behave similarly to other diffractive waveguides.

I didn�t have time for any quantitative checks, but from what I remember the eyebox
was good/large. The image quality was better than I was expecting and the engine
more compact. I�m still a bit concerned about light sources in the real world
turning into flashes of color as I have seen with others diffractive waveguides.

Mike says:
January 25, 2019 at 6:22 am
I saw the Waveoptics device and would say only the lower FOV looked better in terms
of color, but that�s to be expected, as physics tells us diffraction is an angular
problem. At 40� the color was all over the place, worse than Magic leap � again
thats a consequence of the expansion � yes massive eyebox, but something has to
give. And yes as you say Karl, from what I could see of some external reflections,
outside world diffraction is not nice. BTW the resolution also appeared less, more
like 2 pixel from what I could tell. Nice try though.

KarlG says:
January 25, 2019 at 7:57 am
Thanks for the comment. As I have written many times, it is really hard to judge
display quality unless you can control the input. I often say/write �If I can
choose the product or choose the demo material, I will pick the demo material.� By
this I mean, that companies will choose content that does not show their known
problems. Often for displays, the simplest test patterns like a simple white or
gray screen will show up the worst problems such as color and intensity uniformity.
Just looking through a display when it is off with light sources in front of you
can pick up problems.

Hank says:
January 24, 2019 at 7:34 pm
Karl, thanks for sharing your expert comments
The pictures �Nreal Side View� show a problem that the Semi-transflective mirror
definitely reflect the facial or other images superimposed on the virtual image, in
addition to doing ugly structural occlusion, is there an optical solution to solve
this problem?

KarlG says:
January 24, 2019 at 7:59 pm
Thanks, I�m going to get into the reflection issue from below the 45-degree beam-
splitter in a follow-up article. This reflection could be stopped by simply putting
a black �cup� under the beam splitter to block light. The birdbath optics NREAL is
using has to be one of the most common optical structure used. There is an
alternative birdbath configuration used by Raontech and Google Glass, among others,
that is a little thinner and has better light throughput to the real world.

In the alternative birdbath, there is a curved mirror (not semi-mirror) opposite

the display and then you look through the beam splitter (see Google Glass figure I
Birdbath-001.png?ssl=1). A problem is that this alternative birdbath requires a
polarized display image for the �quarter waveplate� to change the polarization and
the OLED display is unpolarized. I guess one could then polarize the OLED but this
has its issues as well. Both Raontech and Google Glass were using LCOS displays
that required polarized light so polarization what not an issue for them.

In the end, the thickness is caused by the beam splitter. The beam splitter is used
to have the image be on-axis with the curved mirror to give an undistorted image
with uniform focus across the image. There are ways to go off axis such as the
Everysight Raptor, but then you want to have pre-compensation optics to correct for
the image and focus distortion. To make them �thin,� then waveguides become the
obvious choice but then waveguides have a different set of issues be that the
common diffractive waveguides or the multi-prism Lumus LOE.

In short there is no perfect solution or even an absolute best solution, only

different solutions with different pros and cons.

Thomas Schmid says:
January 25, 2019 at 8:01 am
It will be very interesting to hear your ideas on Hololens.

There have been recent speculation that Microsoft will shift to scanning
micromirrors for sensing and perhaps also for display technology. It sounds
implausible (especially the latter), but they do undoubtedly have a lot of
relatively recent IP in that area and they have had a big team working on
micromirrors for several years and it has not been decreasing. They have also been
fabricating scanning micromirrors.

My estimate would be that all this work is mainly a research exercise (albeit
ambitious) and as a fallback (since they are seeing that other companies are
working on scanning micromirrors, e.g. Intel did Vaunt and also invested in North),
but it is still curious that they invest as heavily into it as they do.

What is your idea about this, Karl?

KarlG says:
January 25, 2019 at 9:46 am
Overall very insightful and interesting comments. I�m aware of the Hololens IP
relative to laser scanning. Microsoft has to find a way to spend all the money from
the near monopoly of the PC market in a way that looks like they are working on the

Laser beam scanning is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow technology (perhaps
an apt analogy); no matter how far you chase it, when you get to where you think
you need to get to you will find new problems based on your improved understanding
that will say you are at least as far away from a solution as you started. It also
sells well to the semi-technically-literate that only understand the advantages and
are oblivious to the problems which are tougher to understand (and how Microvision
has lost over $500M of investors money over the last ~25 years).
Hololens is an R&D project that �escaped the lab.� Reportedly they sold only 50KU
over the first 2 years or 25K Units per year. If you are making components for
them, they would be a nothing customer if their name was not Microsoft. Himax got
both Google Glass and Hololens, wow what a deal; not enough to pay the electricity
bill to make the units.

I heard (and it seems believable) that Intel�s �investment in North� was to

�sell/trade� the patents to them for Stock in North. It was a fair trade IMO,
worthless patents for worthless stock. Intel�s judgment in near-eye displays has
been perfect, they never got anything right.

moreteavicar says:
January 25, 2019 at 10:14 am
That�s pretty harsh on North! They are new to the scene, so going through the
learning steps, and I suspect do not have to remain with lasers forever � for one
SLEDs are almost there� and there are one or two tricks (might add a bit of bulk
though). I think they�ve done well in such a short space of time, everyone else has
been working on HMDs for 10-20 years.

As for the recent Microsoft IP � I would not read much into it � the attempt of
trying to get an outside world image back up a waveguide without any form of lens
will not work � object has to be at infinity. They have filed similar patents over
past 10 years or so (e.g. eyetracking up a waveguide) which of course bore no fruit
for same reason. According to the latest patent the use of the MEMs still requires
polarising beam splitters which are still one of the most expensive parts of a
display, so it doesn�t really lower cost as the marketing spiel would have you
believe ??

Thomas Schmid says:
January 26, 2019 at 8:56 am
�I heard (and it seems believable) that Intel�s �investment in North� was to
�sell/trade� the patents to them for Stock in North. It was a fair trade IMO,
worthless patents for worthless stock. Intel�s judgment in near-eye displays has
been perfect, they never got anything right.�

I think there is some truth to this, but it�s not the full story. Intel made an
investment in North early on (while the name was still Thalmic labs, also long
before they decided to scrap Vaunt). Probably they got a lot more stock for the IP
when that deal was done. It is said that Intel had trouble selling the Vaunt IP and
after not being able to sell it for the amount they desired they decided to hand it
over to North, where they already had an investment.

Also, I am much more optimistic regarding North�s future. It is a risky business,

of course, and the chance of their value going to nothing is far from zero. But I
also think that they are acting so much smarter than all other AR startups,
everything written about is positive and they seem to promise only exactly what
they can deliver. I think there could very well be a relatively large niche for
what they are going for (they are not trying to compete with Hololens or Magic

KarlG says:
January 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm
Have you seen the display? It�s very poor in image quality and the eyebox is tiny
and if you are just a little off you get a double image. They compound this with
having to have custom fitting stores and a $1,000 price tag for a display that is
lower in resolution than a smartwatch. When I asked simple questions like, �what is
the resolution� and �what is the brightness� the answer I got from their �technical
person� is �we don�t like to talk about things like that.�

Frankly, I don�t see any advantage over a smartwatch, do you? Do you really think
you are going to be inconspicuous when people see the lights from the image
flashing in your glasses? As a business, they seem to have the worst of all worlds
with a poor quality, very expensive, niche product and the requirement for a large
amount of overhead and labor per sale. Nothing about this product picture looks

Chris says:
January 27, 2019 at 5:31 am
Hello Karl,

true. Especially for projectors in smartphones. Cool technology � but no use case,
too dim projections, too low resolutions for all day use and the unanswered
question: Where to project?

The kitchen projectors, e.g. from Bosch, instead may be useful in some situations
because you can project onto food. In addition, many kitchens do not have extra
space for fixed screens and integrating a screen into a table would be also no good
idea. With projectors you may project onto scratched tables. With a build-in screen
you will have a scratched or even broken screen�

Also, I think projectors in smart speakers could have a chance. You do not have to
reserve space in your room and can place it everywhere. If on table, the projector
may for short time project some information on it but alternatively you can move it
near a wall and then you may have the projection there. You do not have to �update
your furniture� for such a smart speaker. It is more flexible than a traditional
screen. Of course, you will have much lower resolution and poor image quality that
depends on the surface and light conditions.

For AR I am still missing a mass market use case that is acceptable for such big,
heavy and uncomfortable glasses. If you refer to Microsoft it is also very true
that Microsoft likely produced only 50.000 units � that are sold-out for a while.
Even if they pay $ 100 per unit to a supplier of the screen and doubles the
production from 25.000 to 50.000 units per year this will result only in revenues
of $ 5.000.000 per year. And that are revenues. Most money � if not all � will be
need to manufacture them. There will be no money left to finance a company. Even if
$ 1 million is over after the costs: E.g. a company like Microvision needs approx.
$ 25 million per year (I do not know why so much) for operations without profits.
So, they can finance by selling that units only two weeks of operations. On the
other hand � the AR customer of Microvision, which could be Microsoft, paid $ 24
million for the development and some units. Why if they do not expect a much bigger

Thank you very much for sharing your news and analysis� to us that we will not find
on other websites.

KarlG says:
January 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm
Thanks, but I think you really have to stretch credibility to justify the kitchen
and the speaker projector.

Kitchen Projector � First, a good kitchen is designed to brightly light the

countertop work surfaces. For the Bosch demo, they had a white inset in the
countertop. The inset/screen can�t be shiny (specular) or seriously off-color (ala
granite or another surface). In short, it has to be a very durable but good
projection screen which is in the real world an oxymoron. The things you do to make
it durable will tend to work against its optical properties as a screen. Do you
really need to project slices on a cake and how long will it take versus the old
fashion methods? Nothing in the demo Bosch gave made me think, �this is going to
really help in the kitchen.� The detect the steak and bring up steak recipes was
kind of neat, but you mean it would not be faster to type �steak recipes� and throw
the steak on a very accurate $20 scale rather than have it guestimated? It all
seemed very contrived like they had a solution looking for a problem.

Same goes for the projection speakers. You still need a decent projection surface.
I would hold out more hope for a rollable OLED/MicroLED screen to roll out when you
need it. Before then LCDs are just too inexpensive with much better image quality
in a typical lit room. You coudl contrive a situation where a projector would work
but it is not a mass market item. The LCD will be so much less expensive and
�reliable� in that it will work in any room. If you are Amazon, Google, Apple,
Facebook, you are looking for a mass market product not a novelty niche. There is a
reason why projectors are on the decline.

You just don�t get it. I�m hearing Microsoft has spent billions of dollars to get
to about $75 million in dollars of revenue (not profit) a year with Hololens (yes,
I am being sarcastic). You are also right that the �supply ecosystem� is terrible.
Himax �won� both Google Glass and the first Generation of Hololens. They spent
several hundreds of millions in their LCOS factory to get less about 5 million in
revenue over a period of about 5 years.

When it comes to Microvision, I�m always reminded of the Clevon Little�s Blazing
Saddles� scene where he gets away by threatening to shoot himself (Warning, like
all of Blazing Saddles is it very non-PC �
v=Z_JOGmXpe5I). Microvision has survived by finding someone, a �fish,� at a big
company that is desperate for their technology for some pet project to act like a
sugar daddy. Microvision then is then able to use the NRE from the �fish� to then
raise a significant multiple of the NRE amount by selling stock since it is a
public company (they are a 25-year-old �startup� that went public during the dotcom
boom when you didn�t need revenue or profit to go public). In the end, the �fish�
realizes that while LBS solves one set of problems for them, it has a whole bunch
of its own problems that are worse than the problems it solves. Time after time
there is a �one and done� order (rinse and repeat, Lucy with Charlie Brown and the
football). Often times the fish is an R&D group that is trying to justify their
existence in a larger company, which does seem to fit Hololens. For all the reasons
you outlined earlier, the numbers don�t work and whether or not Hololens uses LBS,
it does not significantly change the equation in size, weight, or supply economics.

Sam Yuan says:
January 25, 2019 at 10:38 am
NOTE From Karl Guttag Moderating: I�m letting the comment below go through as it is
civil and worth discussing, but I want to emphasize that these are the comments
from iGlass which is a direct competitor to Nreal. Some of the points may be valid
and some of which I disagree. Later when I have time, I will try and address the
individual points in my comments
Nreal vs iGlass AR, which one will work in real life? Nreal need to improve its
privacy and comfortability flaw

At CES 2019, I tried Nreal�s 85g fancy looking glasses, while it was a correct step
towards the right direction, it have 6 major problems waiting to be solved.

MILPITAS, CA, USA, January 13, 2019 / � During CES 2019, I tried
Nreal 85g fancy glasses looking gadget multiple times. While I liked its form-
factor, 85g weight and fancy looking, it have a few major problems to be solved
before it can work in real life.

1) Nreal�s 85g weight on nose is a fake industry design and it simply do not work
in real life, as human nose can only support less than 30g daily prescription
glasses (typical prescription eye-glasses weight between 15g and 30g) for long
period usage. Nreal�s fancy industry design appearance was specifically designed to
attract public attention, not for real life usage.

2) Nreal has fundamental privacy protection flaw, as others can directly see what
you are watching from outside, from ALL angles. This is the same problem showed up
on ODG R8, Lenovo Disney StarWar AR, AntAR, etc., all of these headset share the
same �Birdbath� optical design.

3) Nreal�s 52 degrees FOV is too small to provide Movie Theater experience. Its
screen size can compete with TV screen though, but the screen size is just not
large enough to compete with Movie Theaters.

4) Nreal glasses setting on nose is too close to sensitive middle of eye area and
it get noticeably hot in a 10 minutes use. Nreal need to move the thermal source
out by half an inch or so to improve the comfortability, but it will change its
current ID noticeably.

5) Nreal do not fit daily prescription glasses, while 40% of the world population
wear their daily prescription glasses (this ratio is even higher in China). It
means 40% of population either need to change their daily habit or be excluded from
the customer base.

6) Nreal used the so-called �Birdbath� optics architect, which is complicated and
not the simplest possible high image quality, large Field of View optical deign
form. It is cheaper than the $2300 MagicLeap waveguide though, but Nreal�s $999
price tag are still out of the reach of ordinary consumer.

As a comparison, iGlass used the simplest off-axis optical architect, which use the
inner surface of a reflective plastic mirror, and cheap LCD panel to achieve
80degree large FOV (30-feet giant screen size at 10-meter away) and 4K ultra-sharp
image quality. iGlass puts its 130-gram weight on the forehead, with zero pressure
on nose or face. It is so comfortable that even a 10-year old kid can wear iGlass
for hours, like wearing a hat. And iGlass allows wearers to fit their daily
prescription glasses under iGlass easily. More importantly, iGlass provide total
privacy protection, only the wearer can see the 30-foot giant virtual screen in
front of you, no light pollution to others. And iGlass cost is only $299, one third
the cost of Nreal, within consumer affordability range.

KarlG says:
January 28, 2019 at 9:19 am
1) Yes, it is a bit of an illusion as to the size and it is heavy for long term
use. They will want to have more support on the product.

2) I think you are overblowing this issue. There is an issue with �glowing eyes.�
Being distractive. None of these, including iGlass is very secure in terms of

3) Untrue. If you sit in the �prime� location (usually near the center of the
theater) you typical get 50 degree FOV or less. The super wide FOV a �VR Thing.�
sound-ioan-allen.pdf . A 65� diagonal TV from 6 feet (~2 meters) away has about a
48.5 degree FOV.

4) Heat management was a definite problem with the Nreal prototypes. Solving this
will cause weight and size issues.

5) True, and this is a negative issue with many of today�s headsets. There is no
free lunch, working around most normal glasses requires a much bulkier headset.

6) The birdbath is the most common optical architect used in headsets. It gives
very good image quality for the cost. What drives the nreal headset�s cost up is
the use of very high-quality OLED microdisplays. The biggest drawback is that it is
very inefficient and blocks at lot of real-world light.

iGlass off-axis design has it�s own set of problem. It�s architecture is
essentially the same as Meta2 Mira and many others. Because it is off-axis, it both
distorts the image and the focus from top to bottom. �Digitally� correcting the
distortion lowers the effective resolution significantly and you cannot digitally
correct the focus, the top of the image is going to focus much closer to the eye
than the bottom, which in addition to being a problem, is made worse by glasses
with varifocal or bifocals that have the �far vision� at the top and �near vision�
at the bottom.

While iGlass has a wide FOV it has very low angular resolution. Thus it is better
for doing things like games and poor for things like web browsing. You also get
�crosstalk� between the two eyes in the middle where the two domes join as there is
no separation as there would be in a typical VR headset.

I�m not trying to put down iGlass, but merely point out it is a different set of

Johnny Yang says:
January 25, 2019 at 5:55 pm
Very comprehensive summary as always, thanks Karl!

It seems a calm-down year for all AR companies, only NReal gains some noises in
CES. Moreover, since it uses the same optical solution as ODG, which collapsed
recently, do you think they can pick up what ODG left, or just another ODG which
won�t end well in the future?

Also, how does Waveoptics� image look like? How do you compare it with other
similar waveguide product, such as Vuzix, Hololens, Magic Leap, Digilens, etc.?

Looking forward to your response.


KarlG says:
January 25, 2019 at 9:22 pm

ODG got a lot of buzz and you can see where that go them. In the end, the product
has to be useful. The Nreal AR glasses have their pros and cons. While smaller and
lighter than most AR headsets, they are still big and bulky compared to normal
glasses. The image quality was very good for AR (see-through) type headsets with a
decent FOV and resolution (1080p). A big downside was the 10% see-through but this
could be improved somewhat. To me is a vastly better starting point than say Magic
Leap, but I don�t know if it will get over the finish line even if the 6DOF and
SLAM are good (don�t know about these capabilities). There is a question about the
whole market for a consumer AR headset. Nreal is still expected to be in the $1,000
range and bulkier than glasses. It is still more of an indoor gaming product. While
the image quality is much better than other AR headsets, it still is not as good
for what a movie as a $400 4K 55? TV you can buy at Best Buy, no less what you can
get for $1,000. So to me, it seems more of a strictly gaming machine. The �AR/MR�
market is someone turning into an �indoor only� gaming oriented market at present
and not the �it is going to replace your cell phone.�

WaveOptics seemed to me to be in about the middle of the pack in terms of image

quality compared to other diffractive waveguides. I�m guessing because I could not
do rigorous testing at CES and the vendors control the demos material, they are
better than Magic Leap, about the same as Vuzix and Digilens, and maybe not as good
at Hololens. They are definitely worse than Lumus and NReal by a wide margin which
are better than any diffractive waveguide I have seen.

S.D. says:
January 26, 2019 at 3:19 pm
Lovely write-up as always Karl, I�m glad that your new job hasn�t stopped you from
updating this blog. I use your writings as (a very useful and accurate) anti-
bullshit filter on the hype machines around this kind of tech. Thanks very much.

KarlG says:
January 26, 2019 at 8:29 pm

Victor Franco says:
January 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm
Marvelous write up.

Karl, do you believe the Hololens2, which is expected to be announced next month,
will be the gold standard for AR or are these other companies closing the gap?

KarlG says:
January 26, 2019 at 9:42 pm
My expectation is that the next Hololens will have about as much impact as the 1st
Hololens. I expect it will still be very expensive and sell in the few 10�s of
thousands per year. I�m not expecting great improvement in FOV or image quality.
I�m fond of say there are 30 major technical problems

If there is any gap closing, it is very slow. Everyone is fighting the same issues
with physics. It is very tough to get a good image in a lightweight and compact
form factor so close to the eye. Everyone is just making a different set of
tradeoffs. Magic Leap took the battery and computer out, which reduced the weight
of the headset but left you with a cord that is a snag hazard and a pain to use;
they also increased the FOV, but then made some very bad choices, particularly the
multiple focus planes that damaged the image quality. Nreal relatively clean and
light with comparatively very good image quality (blows away ML and Hololens, and
likely Hololens2), but it is still an indoor gaming-oriented product and not the
kind of thing you would wear walking around outdoors.
Mitchell Charity says:
January 27, 2019 at 9:05 pm
> high-resolution Lidar for depth sensing [�] time of flight (ToF) detection of
very simple interaction. This application is inferior in just about every way to a
touchscreen both regarding display quality and for interaction/touch-interface.

IR-pattern-stereo depth sensing (Intel RealSense) has been used for multitouch. But
the >1 mm depth error was problematic. If Microvision can do better, I at least
would be interested.

I�d like to write code in a setup with improved HIDs. But I�m disinclined to
sacrifice existing productivity. So I start with an existing ThinkPad keyboard.
Even in VR. A keyboard which would obviously be better as a full multitouch
surface. But optical finger tracking has been a pain. So I�d pay for a �make
anything into a good multitouch surface� solution. I can correct for fingertip
orientation, to get from sub-millimeter depth to touch. Though it would be nice if
IR environment wasn�t polluted. Ah well. Perhaps by combining rough depth with a
mirror and individually lit keys�

KarlG says:
January 28, 2019 at 12:11 am
Keyboards are very problematic with laser scanning and any other projection-based
sensing. The obvious problems include the occlusion/shadows, knowing when to
actuate, and how does the user rest their hands. They tend to end up forcing the
user into a very exaggerated 1 finger typing to get it to work.

Maybe with cameras and processing, you could figure out when the finger has done a
press on a surface.

Note that you don�t want to do it the unbelievably dumb way that Hololens did where
you have to hold your hand up for the camera to see a gesture. After about 15
minutes your arm feels like it is made of lead.

Mitchell Charity says:
January 28, 2019 at 5:22 pm
I was unclear, sorry. Imagine depth-sensing multitouch like [1], but instead of a
table surface, there�s a laptop keyboard surface, like [2]. So first, you have a
relatively nice laptop keyboard for typing. But the keys are smooth and flat, and
the gaps between them are smallish. So fingers can glide surprisingly well over the
entire face of the laptop. As if the surface of the keyboard and its surrounding
laptop, were a slightly bumpy table. So second, you can do multitouch on top of the
entire laptop surface. Rather than only on the small touchpad region. So you have a
multitouch tablet, with full finger height/proximity and hand pose data, and a nice
keyboard (now n-key rollover), as one nifty human interface device. If only the
touch sensing was a bit cleaner, and thus didn�t require exaggerated touch down and
up motions. (Also, getting a stylus to nicely glide over keys, while providing
usable pressure data� is a problem).


KarlG says:
January 29, 2019 at 4:15 pm
In the NYU demo, they have the camera more ideally placed far overhead and even
then it is tough. You can do some multi-sense but only if nothing is obscured. It
is really hard to judge intent with a keystroke. With the speaker projectors, you
are generally projecting at an angle which makes things harder. In the end, you are
using a lot of technology to get a very poor keyboard.

Yohao says:
January 28, 2019 at 10:08 pm
Thanks for your expert comments to the products.
As you talked above, the see-through difference is much large, which could affect
the virtual and reality object. is there any standard or comment to the see-through

KarlG says:
January 29, 2019 at 4:20 pm
I�m not sure I fully understand your question. There are no standards I know of for
transparency, but I think most people accept that about 80% transparent (20% light
blocking) is good enough for most purposes and that is what most �transparent�
headsets try to maintain particularly for industrial use. At 50% transparent, a
person will clearly perceive the difference. By 75% light blocking, you are
seriously blocking the light (starting to approach wearing dark sunglasses).

Another major factor is how much the headset blocks the person�s vision. This can
be an important safety concern.

moreteavicar says:
January 30, 2019 at 7:23 am
Karl, ANSI z87.1 for eye protection requires >=85% transmission on indoor use. It
is worth noting Microsoft uses weasil words on its website for Hololens �complies
with ANSI impact requirements� because they cannot pass the full spec due to
transmission. No diffractive waveguide can.

KarlG says:
January 30, 2019 at 10:07 am

It should be noted that about 80% transmissive is about the most I have seen with
any of the AR headsets.

I took a look at ANSI z87.1 2003 (I don�t have the 2015 update handy, and I don�t
know if it changed regards to this) and I don�t see the >=85% requirement for
indoor use. I do see that as the minimum standard to be considered �clear.� This
�clear� rating may then be picked up and used in other safety standards. Maybe I am
missing something. [For others] It should be noted that uncoated glass or plastic
reflects about 4% of the light.

KarlG says:
January 30, 2019 at 10:16 am
My biggest worry with diffractive waveguides even more than the transmission is the
flashes of color you get when there are light sources as I showed in this article:
Waveguides typically have better light transmission that most other �see through�
optics. Most diffractive waveguides I have seen claim to have about 80%
transmission before you consider other lenses. Of course, diffractive waveguide
transmission will vary by a combination of the wavelengths of light and the light
angle which might make spec�ing them tough. Lumus has around 80% transmission
although it varies across the waveguide. Birdbath type optics are usually terrible.

moreteavicar says:
January 30, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Not sure I can share my copy, but theres some of 2010 online here
Under 5.1.2 � �Luminous transmissin shall not be less than 85%� As far as standards
go, ANSI is pretty badly laid out!

I�ve measured Lumus WGs to be ~>85% transmission (as you say, does depend on
reflector position, but at max reflectivity it appears to be in this domain), and
this is consistent with Daqri�s Smart glasses being ANSI certified, must be some
good AR coatings on their other lenses. Hololens is ~35%, indeed some of that is
the outer visor, but remember diffractive displays are usually made up by a number
of stacked guides to handle each color (4 for Hololens, 6 Magic Leap�) so as you
correctly point out there are the Fresnel losses, which yield ~ <70% transmission
on Hololens, omitting diffractive layer scattering losses. Yes birdbath is pretty

Seki says:
January 28, 2019 at 11:18 pm
Hi, Karl.
I wonder if you have visitied LetinAR during the CES, who showed 80 degree AR demo.
It was impressive for me. Do you have any idea?

Seki Ha says:
January 28, 2019 at 11:22 pm
Hi, Karl.
I wonder if you have visitied LetinAR during the CES, who showed 80 degree AR demo.
It was impressive for me. Do you have any idea?

Pingback: CES 2019 � Nreal � Karl Guttag on Technology
Mikey says:
January 30, 2019 at 2:28 pm
Hi Karl nice analysis. Wondering about a few things:

1) did you think nreal was faking their demo? It seemed like their slam was being
faked with the table setup
2) do you think small glasses style with limited functionality like Vuzix or focals
North will be the big hit or more advanced glasses like odg or Thirdeye or nreal
that have slam ?
3) what did you think of mad gaze? It seemed like nreal but without the packs
4) did you see ThirdEye�s X2? It was the smallest stand alone glasses with slam and
the optics seem waveguide
5) do you think hololens 2 will be a �leap above� everyone else or just slightly
better FOV and Slam?

KarlG says:
January 31, 2019 at 12:15 am
1. I didn�t have time to check out nreal�s SLAM demo. I possibly could have �pull
rank� to a demo, but my focus these days is checking out displays and optics.

2. It�s hard in either direction. The problem is that things are getting conflated
with people expecting great image quality with SLAM in a sunglasses form factor.
� North Focals from what I could see is terrible; they say they are adding stores
but I don�t see it.
� Vuzix, IMO, is closest to be a �consistent product� with OK but not great image
quality but at least it is small and light. It has a decent size eyebox and does
not require custom fitting and only blocks about 20% of the real world light. It is
lower in resolution and FOV than most but still blows away North. I think it is a
LOT brighter than North which will be good for outdoor use. I�m not sure if there
is big market for what they are doing, but at least it is much better than North.
� The AR with SLAM (or Mixed Reality) market is more for video games, museums, and
training. Basically, they are semi-see-through VR. It is a totally different market
than the �walk around an Augmented real world.� This is what I call a �Segway
market,� is exist, it is just not going to be that big a market.

3. I think Mad Gaze is still using the Raontech LCOS birdbath design kit optics.
That design uses LCOS. It is about 40% transmissive but with lower image quality
that nreal. Nreal was using 1080p OLEDs with good very good black levels. Nreal
would be better for watching a movie, but Mad Gaze is more AR-Like.

4. ThirdEye�s X2 is using Lumus�s waveguide. Lumus waveguides look much better than
any diffractive waveguide. It is using a 720p LCOS. The image quality is similar to
Mad Gaze and Third Eye 1 (which is the same optics as Mad Gaze). The Thirdeye X2 is
using the older Lumus waveguide that results in the optics blocking a lot of the
user�s peripheral vision. Newer Lumus waveguides are much better but just coming to

5. I would have �modest expectations� for Hololens 2 in terms of image quality.

Somewhat better FOV and better color uniformity but little or no improvement in
resolution (just a guess based on what I think they are doing). I would expect them
to keep improving the SLAM. In the end, I think it will be another �25K units a
year type product.� It is hard to predict the price when then spend billions of
dollars in R&D for a 75 million dollar a year market, they could price it anywhere
and it won�t change the bottom line significantly.

Jerry says:
January 31, 2019 at 10:32 am
If you are expecting only 25k a year in units for Hololens 2, does that include the
recent military contract? I believe I read they will be supplying up to 100k units
over the next two years. Is this a different product? You also wrote you believe
Hololens is the wrong product for the military. Why do you think the military
believes other wise and in your opinion what is the right product? Sorry for all
the questions in one comment!

KarlG says:
January 31, 2019 at 8:20 pm
The short answer is �yes the 25k included the military.� I should also note that I
work for RAVN that is developing a military headset based on the needs of the
troops (RAVN�s CEO is a former Navy Seal with two tours in combat). The DNA of our
company is to be trying to help the troops with what they actually need with the
head of the company having lived it, and not what some Ph.D. in a lab theorized
that they want.
I don�t think the military as a whole believe that Hololens is the right product,
just a segment with money to spend. The US military wants to be �high tech� and
keep ahead of the enemy, but they are often misled by theoretical advantages that
are impractical in actual combat.

Keywords in the military contract are �up to.� There is a lot that goes on in
military contracts that have nothing to do with what is best for the troops. At
some point, they will have to pass field qualification where they can�t handwave
around issues like how much the equipment blocks the light.

Right off the bat, Hololens blocks too much light. There are specs out there for
all kinds of eyewear that have to block less than 15% of the light and Hololens
blocks much more than that. Military documents talk about the danger of blocking
too much light in case troops have to go from outside to indoors quickly (see for
%20Library/Safety_Glasses_and_Tinted_Lenses_63-001-1013.pdf). Then you have all the
issues with diffractive waveguides and the flashes of colors they cause. Unless
Hololens changes everything about what they are doing for optics including dropping
the diffractive waveguides they are likely continuing to use in Hololens 2, I don�t
think it will get deployed in mass numbers to the troops. Part of the 25K units a
year Hololens already sells goes into military training, but that is a very
different requirement than deploying it with troops in the field.

It�s hard for me to see Hololens as a competitor other than their soaking up money
and maybe putting the military off of high tech. I have a saying, �if I am a small
company, I want the big company spending their time and effort on the wrong thing.�
There are lots of different groups in the military and many of them are not bought
off on Hololens.

Russ says:
January 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm
I really want to see a display that uses active lenses to always keep the point the
display in focus. It could then simulate depth of field by blurring the �out of
focus� regions of the display. You�d need good eye-tracking to see the convergence
point of the eyes. As a bonus, you wouldn�t need to worry so much about the sweet
spot of the lenses since you could adjust focus based on what region of the display
is being looked at.

jerry says:
February 1, 2019 at 9:58 am
For the sake of the men and women in our military, I hope they get the right
product. As a competitor I would expect nothing less than what you said, but I
think you are being a little too dismissive of Microsoft.

If you do not see Hololens as a competitor, who do you see as a competitor?

Jerry says:
February 1, 2019 at 1:35 pm
One additional question. It has been 4 years since Hololens was released. Are your
assumptions based on this version of Hololens or are things you may have learned
about the upcoming release?

Charlie says:
February 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Hi Karl, thank you very much for bring us these useful information.
Regarding the tri-laser TV provided by Hisense, I am curious about the speckle
level of it. Usually, green laser generates most obvious speckle and that is one
reason why people only use single/dual lasers in projection light source before
(another reason would be the price of green laser is way more expensive).
I haven�t seen anyone else talking about the speckle level of it. Since you saw the
product, what would you rate the speckle level? Like, completely speckle free,
minor speckle, moderate speckle or still very obvious?

Thanks again!

KarlG says:
February 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm
I did not notice any speckle. Most �laser projectors� today are actually made with
a blue laser for blue that is also converted to green with a phosphor wheel. Red is
sometimes an LED, sometimes a red laser, and sometimes a blue laser converted with
phosphors to RED. So if the phosphor convert green there will be no speckle in
green. Another simple trick is to vibrate the screen (this is what Dolby does in
the Laser Cinemas.� It does not take much vibration for a major speckle reduction
and it is the only thing I have seen really work eliminate any noticeable speckle
with true laser light. They are likely using multiple (many) blue lasers and this
will reduce speckle in blue.

Ian says:
February 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Hi Carl. I want to know if you had the opportunity of test the Realmax Qian(100 AR)
in CES 2019? They claim the FOV is 100 degrees. Some reviews say in youtube that
the image is very clear and the FOV is the biggest of all AR headsets. Everything
is integrated is the headset. Is a very interesting AR headset.

Ian Si says:
February 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm
Hi. Carl. Did you have the opportunity of check Realmax Qian in CES 2019? They
claim 100 degrees FOV and very bright image.

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