Moscone West
San Francisco, California, United States
2 - 4 February 2020
Course (SC1218)
Optical Technologies and Architectures for Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs)
Wednesday 5 February 2020
8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Member Price $685.00
Non-Member Price $805.00
Student Member Price $397.00
  • Course Level:
  • Intermediate
  • CEU:
  • 0.7
The course provides an extensive overview of the current product offerings as well as the various optical architectures, as in:
- Smart Glasses and Digital Eyewear
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) headsets
- Virtual Reality (VR) and Merged Reality headsets
The course describes the optical backbone of existing systems, as well as the various optical building blocks, as in:
- Display engines including microdisplay panel architectures, scanner based light engines and phase panels
- Optical combiners integrated either in free space or waveguide platforms
- Depth mapping sensors either though structured illumination or time of flight
- Head tracking, gaze tracking and gesture sensors
Emphasis is set on the design and fabrication techniques to provide the best display immersion and comfort:
- Wearable comfort (size/ weight, CG)
- Visual comfort (eye box size and IPD coverage, angular resolution, FOV, distortion, dynamic range, contrast,…)
- Passive and active foveated rendering and peripheral displays
- VAC (Vergence Accommodation Conflict) mitigation through varifocal, multifocal, spatial and temporal light fields and per pixel depth holographic displays.
The features and limitations of current optical technologies addressing such specifications are reviewed.

In order to design next generation head worn systems, one needs to fully understand the specifics and limitations of the human visual system, and design the optics and the optical architecture around such. :: Challenges for next generation systems are reviewed, where immersion and comfort need to be addressed along with consumer level costs requirements.
Finally, the course reviews market analysts’ expectations, projected over the next 5 to 10 years, and lists the main actors (major product design companies, start-ups and optical building block vendors, and current investment rounds in such). Demonstration of some of the state of the art AR, MR and VR headsets will be offered to attendees at the end of the course.
Learning Outcomes
  • identify the various consumer and enterprise head worn systems available in industry today, defined as smart glasses, digital eyewear, AR, MR and VR HMDs, and understand their fundamental differences and specifics
  • explain the current optical technologies and sub-systems, their advantages and limitations.
  • describe the relations and implications between FOV, resolution, MTF, eyebox size, effective IPD coverage, screen door effects, pupil swim, vergence/accommodation disparity, foveated rendering, peripheral displays,
  • examine the human visual system, its specifics and limitations.
  • identify the limitations of current optical architectures and how some can be overcome by designing the optics around the human visual system.
  • describe the feature and functionality requirement for next generation systems, and review the key enabling technologies.
  • examine the current AR/VR market status as well as the upcoming market expectations for each field (smart glasses, AR and VR)
Optical, mechanical and electrical engineers involved in the design and development of Enterprise and Consumer HMDs in all their declinations. Product and project managers involved in defining current and next generation HMD products, technology product roadmaps and next generation optical sub-systems.
About the
Bernard C. Kress Over the past two decades, Bernard Kress has made significant scientific contributions as an engineer, researcher, associate professor, consultant, instructor, and author. He has been instrumental in developing numerous optical sub-systems for consumer and industrial products, generating IP, teaching and transferring technological solutions to industry. Application sectors include laser materials processing, optical anti-counterfeiting, biotech sensors, optical telecom devices, optical data storage, optical computing, optical motion sensors, digital displays systems, and eventually HUD and HMD displays (smart glasses, AR/MR/VR). Bernard has been specifically involved in the field of micro-optics, wafer scale optics, holography and nano-photonics. He has published half a dozen books and has more than 35 patents granted. He is a short course instructor for the SPIE and has been chair of various SPIE conferences. He is an SPIE fellow since 2013 and has been elected to the board of Directors of SPIE (2017-19). Bernard has joined Google [X] Labs. in 2011 as the Principal Optical Architect on the Google Glass project, and is since 2015 the Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft Corp. on the Hololens project.
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