Tiny mirror system will solve the fundamental problem of augmented reality

Modern augmented reality systems have a fundamental problem. It consists in weak occlusion - that is, in small blocking of light from distant objects by those in the foreground. In common headset models like Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap, it takes on such a pronounced meaning that it creates a lot of serious problems.

If an object in front of your eyes obscures the light from the background, it looks sharper and more detailed - and vice versa. Alas, the developers of augmented reality initially assumed that the drawn objects should have some degree of transparency. In modern headsets, only one spatial light modulator is used, the power of which is insufficient. Therefore, the added objects, due to small occlusion, are sometimes so transparent that they are barely visible - there is no question of any realistic perception of perspective in this case. Accordingly, interacting with an object that you cannot really see is also very problematic.

A simple way out, adding a second light modulator, immediately changes the entire hardware architecture and significantly complicates and enlarges the headset device. Therefore, Stanford University took a different path - a team of engineers led by Brook Krajancic developed a system of mirrors that act as a filter for light from real objects. These mirrors have two positions: full light transmission and full blocking, with each miniature mirror being switched independently of the others.

The main advantage of the development is that the switching speed is measured in tens of thousands of times per second. The controller selects such a position of the mirrors to provide the optimal picture dimming scheme, blocking the light of real objects in favor of the drawn ones. This task requires a lot of calculations, so a powerful processor will have to be added to the system, plus power consumption will increase. But at the same time, it will be possible to preserve the overall dimensions of the headsets in their current format.