AR/VR technologies have become big industries with mainstream availability. Total spending on AR/VR products and services was $11 billion in 2017 and excited 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
- Motion sensors
- Wifi & bluetooth interfaces
Goggle-type headsets require a high-resolution display to overlay 3D images. These requirements impact the speed of processing and also the size of memory.
Many headsets use multi-core processors to handle the high-resolution overlay images and indoor/outdoor navigation processing. High-performance systems have 32-bit floating point DSP for real-time 3D image rendering.
Headsets 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. Because ToF cameras have limited resolution, standard two-dimensional HD cameras are added.
Motion sensors track head movements to provide 3D imagery on the display and provide accurate navigation.
Typically both WiFi and Bluetooth Interfaces are required for connection to the local devices and the cloud. It is not unusual 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 life-time is often limited by the size and weight of the device.