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Virtual Reality to Augmented Reality
"Beam Me Up, Scotty!"

23 Aug 2018   Author: Stephanie Baclet 

While Star Trek sold the idea of teleportation to the world, Virtual Reality has made it possible to teleport the world to you. No matter where you are, Virtual Reality can transport you to the furthest corners of this and any other (imaginary) world. There are a number of headsets available on the market used in many ways in Military, Automotive, Entertainment, Education, Tourism and even Healthcare, from training surgeons to visiting a tranquil Hawaiian beach.

However, there is another technology slowly rising its way up from science fiction and it is about to change the way we interact with the world, Augmented Reality (AR). More than smart glasses, AR gives you a sense of an alternative reality where virtual objects interact with the real world around you.

The technical challenge of AR is just as big as the change it will bring to our lives, for this reason, there are currently not many AR headsets available. Microsoft has released their Hololens headset in 2016 and Magic Leap just launched the Magic Leap One this month. Whilst these AR headsets are far from being mainstream, partly because of their price, you can still go and experience AR in one of Microsoft retails store.

The 2 headsets currently available are actually creator edition and will allow software and app developers to design attractive applications to define the user experience. Additionally, to ensure an attractive library of applications for their users, AR headset suppliers need to build the hardware to support an immersive user experience.

The perfect experience of AR should feel like the user is actually not wearing any glasses. In terms of hardware specifications, this means a wide Field of View (FOV), bright images with high resolution and therefore lenses with minimal darkness.

Various techniques of micro / nano fabrication are involved in the effort of achieving these performances. Oxford Instrument Plasma Technology has developed front end processing solutions for some of the main techniques used in AR/VR.


Some MEMS technologies are already part of our daily life and they have naturally been selected as a technology of choice for AR / VR headset. MEMS acoustics are used for microphone and speakers, MEMS Inertial Mass Units (IMUs) are used for head position tracking and MEMS RF are considered as key enabler of 5G technology.

Display Source

Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) and Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technologies are currently favourites when it comes to designing a micro display with bright and high resolution image. However Micro LEDs are also considered for this type of application due to their excellent contrast and lifetime performances as discussed in our recent blog on micro LED.


Sensors are required to allow the virtual object to interact with the real world. Sensors such as VCSEL/Photodiode systems are in particular very popular since they enable 3D sensing. 3D sensing, whether based on Time of Flight or Structured Light, allows scanning objects in a room and produces a live feedback.


A combiner is used to merge the virtual image to the image for the real world. Several types of combiners have been developed based on holographic waveguide, surface relief waveguide or planar waveguide.

With daily advances in software and hardware, there is a huge potential for Augmented Reality to bring about a big change in today’s culture. Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology has many solutions in place to help deliver AR and is ready to make Augmented Reality…. a reality.

For more information on Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology solutions visit our page or drop us a line through our email

Magic Leap One Mixed Reality Headset

Magic Leap's One

Hololens Microsoft Windows AR VR Headset

Microsoft's Hololens

Hololens 2.0 Depth Sensing 1 Hololens 2.0 Depth Sensing 2

Hololense 2.0 Depth Sensing


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Header Photo: Star Trek's Transporter (Credit: Allstar/Cinetext/Paramount)