What does the future of AR and MR glasses look like to you? Did you imagine something very much like regular eyeglasses but with augmented and mixed reality functionalities? Maybe mobile enabled?
That’s what MR glasses producer ThirdEye has in mind. It’s not on shelves yet but a new patent recently awarded to the company brings that day closer.
What Is the Patent for?
The patent that ThirdEye received was for their OLED driver. OLED stands for “organic light emitting diode”. OLED technology uses a film of organic compounds that react to electric current to create displays. It’s not the only display technology used in MR glasses but it’s the one that most people are excited about right now. That’s why getting a patent to protect their technology was so important.
“A lot of big players were also looking at working with OLEDs,” said Nick Cherukuri, ThirdEye founder. “It’s a space where there’s a lot of interest… this will definitely help us going into the future.”
ThirdEye applied for the patent in August of 2017 but it wasn’t approved until February 28, 2019, according to public records of the US Patent and Trademark Office. However, the full process took much longer than just the patent approval.
“There’s probably about five years of research and development behind this,” said Cherukuri. “We have about five labs in our offices and we’ve been doing a lot of R&D in this space… It’s something we had experience in, in terms of our optical scientists.”
OLED and Model Size
ARPost has spoken with ThirdEye about their impressively small MR glasses before. Weighing in at just 6 ounces, they’re believed to be the lightest MR glasses on the market. That’s saying something considering they also have a battery-pack on board. However, ThirdEye wants to go even smaller.
“In our next design, this patent will allow us to design an even smaller mixed reality display,” said Cherukuri. “Right now we’re the smallest mixed reality display and our goal is to make it even smaller.”
Working with the new and improved OLED technology will also allow ThirdEye to decrease the weight of their MR glasses. Their most recent model, the X2, weighs 6 ounces. Their next model might weigh 4 or 5. Cherukuri said that this may be the technology that ThirdEye needs to make a smaller, lighter model that is more friendly to consumers. Right now their products are used almost exclusively for enterprise.
OLED and Display Power
Weight isn’t the only obstacle that they want to overcome with upcoming OLED technology. They also look forward to improving optics including introducing higher resolution and sharper contrast. Finally, they hope to increase their display’s field of view.
“For a consumer use-case, we have to solve the field of view problem to make it as wide as possible,” said Cherukuri.
The field of view refers to the size of the display. For example, with VR technology, the display takes up almost all of the user’s field of view. For a number of reasons, this isn’t practical with MR and AR displays. However, the field of view for ThirdEye’s next model may be almost twice what it is now putting it beyond that of competitors like Magic Leap. Of course, ThirdEye isn’t the only company working on display improvements.
“Every year you see a new model coming out with a slightly better display,” said Cherukuri. “There’s a lot of innovation going on in this space.”
What’s Next for ThirdEye?
Being able to work with their OLED improvements puts a lot on ThirdEye’s plate. However, the company is working on other improvements for their next model. That includes working with carriers on installing a 4G or 5G chip in future models.
“We’re filing a lot of patens so I think we’ll be announcing more soon, in both optical and electrical engineering,” said Cherukuri.