23 Jun 2023 | Mike Boland
AWE Talks: Mixed Reality Check
AWE USA 2023

Welcome back to AWE Talks, our series that revisits the most engaging content from AWE’s catalog of conference sessions. Now that AWE USA 2023 has concluded, we have a fresh batch of sessions to dive into. 

This week, we focus on a topic that was well-timed for the subsequent (and now past) Apple Vision Pro unveiling. Karl Guttag, everyone's favorite source of real talk and reality checks, breaks down passthrough AR versus optical systems. 

See the summarized takeaways below, along with the full session video. Stay tuned for more video highlights each week and check out the full library on awe.live and AWE’s YouTube Channel.

Karl Guttag

– There’s a lot of wide-eyed optimism about AR and blue-sky thinking.
– Much of that smashes into the reality of technological constraints.
– And there’s no better reality-check authority than Karl Guttag.
– An electrical engineer by trade, he breaks down all the real constraints.
– Much of AR’s challenge comes down to expectation vs reality, he says.
– We start with the expectation for Ray-Bans, and end up with Hololens.
– There are Ray-Ban-like components in a Hololens (waveguides).
– But those are burried in layers of supporting tech like heat dissipation.
– Another key concept is the bisection of passthrough vs optical see-through.
– They each have pros and cons, which are inversely related.
– In other words, each is better at what the other one is bad at.
– And each has a different set of vexing design tradeoffs.
– There are myriad factors that all affect each other: heat, cost, FOV, etc.
– Seethrough optics require microdisplays that don’t impede line-of-sight.
– And optical combiners sacrifice quality in both digital and real-world light.
– Passthrough AR meanwhile has full control of pixels and easier FOV.
– But there are issues when passthrough cameras aren’t centered on the eye.
– This especially shows for any real-world objects that come in close distance.
– Passthrough AR also imposes a fixed focus on the world, leading to VAC.
– And the list goes on... the bottom line is that mixed reality is hard.
– “If all MR took was money and smart people, it would be here already.”

For more color and Guttag-signature breakdowns, see the full video below. Also see his subsequent multi-part series on AVP, building on several of the above principles.

  Want more XR insights and multimedia? ARtillery Intelligence offers an indexed and searchable library of XR intelligence known as ARtillery Pro. See more here.  

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