VR headsets have been around for a number of years now with companies like Oculus, HTC, and Valve all putting their own spin on the design. Since Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2.4 billion, it is them that has been advancing the scene the most, producing a true wireless VR experience with the Oculus Quest. However, it now seems that Facebook is taking true wireless VR to a whole new level releasing details of a slim and lightweight VR headset that emulates the look of glasses.
At this current time, VR headsets are bulky and cumbersome with many speculating that the tech will die out due to this. Facebook has other ideas though, seemingly developing a pair of VR glasses that are only a little thicker than the standard glasses you see today. This research has been discussed in a Siggraph 2020 paper named “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” which Facebook goes on to say that they are experimenting with something they’re calling “pancake optics”, allowing for a VR display based of layers of holographic film.
This display isn’t breathtaking sporting a similar resolution to that of the Oculus Quest, 1200×1600 pixels, while also have a field of view in a 93-degree circle or 92-by-69 degree rectangle. The VR glasses are likely to weigh just 10 grams and for reference, the Oculus Quest ways a whopping 571 grams, an incredible difference, and one your face will be thankful for. The glasses-like design is also a huge departure from traditional VR headsets moving away from the blocky rectangle approach, making it look more aesthetically pleasing as well as much more functional.
It seems that these Facebook VR glasses are unfortunately still a ways off and are currently at the proof of concept/prototype stage but with the amount of research that seems to have gone into the next generation of VR, VR glasses could be worn by the general public sooner than we think.
Would you be interested in VR glasses over the traditional VR headset design? It certainly seems like a lot less strain on your face/head as well as the freedom to move around with no attached wires. But, will they provide a full VR experience? The condensed nature of the glasses may cause critical problems in this area. On the other hand, with the amount of research that will be undertaken in those “pancake optics” we hope Facebook can pull it out of the bag.