AR/VR technologies have become big industries with mainstream availability. Total spending on AR/VR products and services was $11 billion in 2017 and expected to grow to be $215 billion in 2021.

Augmented reality (AR) is an “augmented” view of the physical, real-world environment which displays computer-generated  sound, video, graphics or GPS data while still viewing the real world.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds.

AR/VR systems are full of exciting technology.

  • Display technology
  • Cameras
  • Processor
  • Motion sensors
  • Wifi & bluetooth interfaces
  • Battery

Display technology

Goggle-type headsets require a high-resolution display for overlay of 3D images. These requirements impact the speed of processing and also the size of memory.

Processor

Many headsets use multi-core processors to handle the high-resolution overlay images and indoor/outdoor navigation processing. High-performance systems have Graphical Processing Units (GPU) for real-time 3D image rendering.

Cameras

Headsents may have more than one camera including a time-of-flight camera (ToF camera) to measure depth using IR light. The time-of-flight camera is a class of LIDAR, in which the entire scene is captured with laser light measuring the depth of field at every pixel.

Motion sensors

Motion sensors track head movements to provide 3D imagery on the display and provide accurate navigation.

Wireless

Typically both WiFi and Bluetooth Interfaces are required for connection to the local devices and the cloud. It is usual for them to support Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G BT4.0 EDR +BLE.  The high speed of WiFi is essential for transmitting live video or 3D video.

Battery

Battery life-time is often limited by the size and weight of the device. Careful battery selection and power minimization is critical.