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FAQs

Hopefully we have provided answers to every question about TruLife Optics and its technologies here. If you have a question we haven't thought of, then do get in touch with us directly! 

What makes holograms such a useful technology for creating augmented reality optics?

Using holograms is the only way that currently exists of providing transparent, high resolution, full colour 2D and 3D images in optics used for wearable augmented reality devices. 

What is a hologram?

Holograms come in many forms, including the one used for product authentication on your bank card. That type just displays an image, usually in 3D, that was written into it e.g. the Visa dove symbol. 

Instead of having a fixed image written into it, a hologram can also serve as a tool to route light or images through it in a customised way. For example, it is possible to make a hologram behave like a lens so that an image presented to it is magnified.

We have made our customised holograms route the images from a microdisplay into the glass Waveguide by turning the direction that the images travel through 90 degrees.  In other words light travelling towards the flat face of the hologram is turned so that it travels sideways within the Waveguide before reaching the second hologram where it is turned by 90 degrees again into the eye. 

What is a Waveguide?

The Waveguide is a thin sheet of plastic or glass that allows the image to travel along it but only between two surfaces. The image bounces along the interior of the glass/plastic to the point of exit and from there the image is projected into the eye. 

The Waveguide confines the direction of travel of the image through a process called total internal reflection. 

The Waveguide has two holograms bonded to it – the first for collecting the display image and the second to project the image into the wearer’s eye. In a simple sense the holograms function like a router to transmit the image from the point of generation to the point of projection into the eye. 

So how does it work?

TruLife Optics technology involves using two holograms. The first collects the display image. That image is then turned by the hologram and then sent along a thin piece of glass or plastic, that we call a waveguide, to a second hologram. The image is then turned again at about 90 degrees through the second hologram within the optic so that the light is projected into the eye of the user.  

Why use holograms rather than another technology such as a prism?

Using holograms means you can create an optic for a wearable augmented reality device that is only 2mm (or less) thick. The projected image is transparent, meaning that you can view the world through the overlaid holographic image. The image does not lose any fidelity or resolution and is focused to accommodate the eye, thus avoiding the need to squint or move your eye to see the information.  Other AR solutions require material that is significantly thicker or the use of complicated optics.

Who can purchase these Waveguides?

The Waveguides are available to purchase today for any developer – no matter how large or small – who wishes to use them to create augmented reality devices.  They are purchasable through our Developers Zone. They are sold for use in prototype devices. The cost for supplying optics in volume for commercially available finished devices depends entirely on the end device and application. 

What else do developers get with the Waveguide?

Developers get full technical specifications of the Waveguide and how they are best deployed. They also get dedicated customer support from our technical team who are available on email and over the phone.  

Are the Waveguides flat or can they be made curved?

They are currently flat. Technically we can make them curved as well if a customer wants us to produce a bespoke shaped optic for their device. 

Are your Waveguides limited in size?

No. Currently the size of our waveguides are 10cm by 3cm - dimensions selected for ease of use by developers. We find that the Waveguide at this size enables a data angle of view of between 18 and 20 degrees. However, the hologram does not obstruct your normal view of the world. The Waveguide needs to be 2.4mm thick to couple the light from a hologram that is 2.1mm x 1.3mm in size. The hologram can be incredibly thin depending on the material on which it is applied.

Do you make bespoke optics for specific customer requirements?

Yes, TruLife Optics is already working with companies in the AR space on bespoke projects and we are committed to working with customers to meet their individual requirements. 

How do you make your holograms?

Because our holograms are full colour, we use red, green and blue lasers, together with a proprietary material (manufactured and coated exclusively by ourselves) to make our holographically enabled Waveguides. Our Waveguides are manufactured in the UK.

Does TruLife Optics make any other components for a wearable AR device?

No. TruLife Optics only produces the Waveguides for incorporating into finished devices. That is where our expertise lies.

In what ways are you looking to further develop the technology?

We have been working on the technology for two years and we feel we are now ready to start engaging with the developer community. We continue to work on improvements to the technology, including but not limited to:

Improved colour balance across the hologram

3D capabilities

Curved surfaces

Use at the infra red spectrum to enable eye tracking

 

What sort of applications and devices do you think will be made using your optics?

We are very much adopting an open source type of model where hardware developers have complete freedom to develop devices and applications that would benefit from using our technology. 

The consumer and industrial applications for augmented reality devices are almost endless and it is not for us to dictate or guess what the augmented reality industry will look like in a few years time. We are at the dawn of a new and very exciting industry and TruLife Optics is here to enable the industry to develop as quickly and diversely as possible. 

What application features does your technology facilitate that other technologies may lack?

Examples include but are not limited to: 
3D
Distance monitoring 
Transparent but able to project the image onto the real world
Infra red tracking

 

Augmented reality is a phrase that has been in use for a while, but we have yet to see a consumer-ready product. How come?

Every other component for a wearable AR device has been commercially available for a while now. GPS, motion sensors, microdisplays and other technologies are now commonplace. The one thing holding the industry back has been the lack of an optic that enables true augmented reality without suffering major functionality drawbacks, such as the need to use a very thick beamsplitter, or multi-faceted microprism assemblies, for example. Our technology solves that bottleneck in device development. In a sense it is the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle. 

Now we have solved the optics issue, we expect a rapid acceleration in the development of AR devices. 

What is the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality?

Virtual reality devices provide a totally immersive, computer-generated world. Oculus Rift is a good example of a virtual reality device.  The wearer cannot look through the device to the outside real world.

Augmented reality devices overlay transparent 2D or 3D images onto the real world as you view it through a wearable device.

How is the display image created? Where does the image source come from?

The image source can be a smartphone, tablet or laptop.  The data is sent via Bluetooth, for example, to a wearable microdisplay. 

Wearable microdisplay technology, of which typical examples are liquid crystal on silicon (LiCOS), (Oled’s), etc has helped to make AR possible by providing the feasibly small projection engines.  

The microdisplay output image is first collimated by a compact lens to provide a comfortable viewing distance and then projected into the waveguide assembly.

Do you have to focus on the projected image?

To an extent, but you don’t need to strain your eyes and in normal circumstances the overlaid image and the real world background both remain in near perfect focus. 

What about people who are short sighted?

People who are short sighted may need additional glasses. People who are long-sighted won’t have any issues. There are no issues for people with contact lenses.

What are the power requirements?

The Waveguide does not require an external power source to work. In fact, if you look into it with the naked eye it gives you eyes in the back of your head by allowing you to see directly behind you. The optic is very efficient, however the power requirements for a microdisplay will depend on the AR application. We are confident that the power requirements will not be prohibitive when creating wearable devices. 

What does a developer need to use your Waveguide?

A developer needs a microdisplay with access to a display generator, such as a smartphone or computer as well as collimating lenses to put in front of the display (see spec sheet). All this needs to be held together in some form of frame which, for example, could be rapidly prototyped  (3D printed).

How much does a Waveguide cost?

Initially our Waveguides are made in our laboratory and we are charging £1,500 (inclusive of VAT) per pair of holograms mounted on a Waveguide.

If I develop a device using your Waveguide technology will I be able to buy quantities of Waveguides in the future?

Yes, TruLife Optics is exploring manufacturing options and is confident that our optic will be available in quantity for companies and or individuals wishing to incorporate them into their products.

Is the product patent protected?

Yes it is. TruLife Optics and NPL (National Physical Laboratory) have a joint patent pending on the technology, and we will be happy to discuss licensing options to all interested parties.

How did you develop the original idea for the Waveguide?

It is not a new idea, but TruLife Optics is the first company in the world to produce a commercially available holographic solution in full colour.  It required us having the right proprietary material for the Waveguide as well as the equipment and expertise to produce the holograms. 

Where are the Waveguides manufactured?

The Waveguides are manufactured in the UK at our dedicated production facility.

What is your involvement with the National Physical Laboratory?

We share the patent equally with NPL. The commercial terms of our agreement with NPL remain confidential. However we are delighted to be partners with NPL – the foremost research institute of its type in the world and benefit hugely from the expertise of its scientists.  We continue to work in partnership with NPL to meet the diverse requirements of our global customer base. 

Will you remain a one product company?

Our first priority is to serve the global development community for augmented reality devices with our first Waveguide product. 

Longer-term we intend to produce a range of different optical components for the AR industry.  In addition we are already working with a number of customers to make bespoke optics to meet their specific requirements. 

Mass production will be in another material that is available but the current material is of the highest quality. 

What is the relationship between TruLife Optics and Colour Holographic?

TruLife Optics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colour Holographic Ltd and shares a management team with its parent company. Full director biographies are available in the About section of the website and the management team has a proven track record dating back to 1997 of developing commercially successful holographic applications for our global customer base.  

What support can you offer your developer community?

Developers have full access to our technical support team who are always on hand to answer any questions. We are a UK based company so developers will have to allow us time to sleep! Other than that we are here to help all the time!