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Computer Science Colloquia

Thursday, October 2, 2014
David Luebke, NVidia
Location: Rice Hall, Room 340
Time: 12:30

Computational Displays for Virtual & Augmented Reality

Wearable displays--such as those used in the Oculus Rift, Google Glass, or more exotic systems like Tony Stark's fictional helmet in Iron Man 3--all face a few fundamental challenges. One challenge is focus: how can we put a usable display as close to the eye as a pair of eyeglasses, where the human eye cannot bring it into focus? Another is field of view: how to expand beyond the "rear-view mirror" approach of Google Glass and fill the user's vision with displayed content. Still another challenge is resolution: how to fill that wide field of view with enough pixels, when human visual acuity (the limit of a so-called "retinal" display) would require displaying about 10,000x8,000 pixels per eye. A final challenge is bulk: displays should be unobtrusive and unencumbering, as light and forgettable as a pair of sunglasses, but the laws of optics mean that most VR displays are bulky boxes bigger than ski goggles.

At NVIDIA we have been tackling these challenges using computational displays, which combine novel optics with computation that processes the displayed content to be "demangled" by novel optics. I will describe our recent work in the field: Near-eye light field displays replace the traditional lens of a virtual reality display like the Oculus Rift with a "bug's eye" array of microlenses that make the display thin, light, able to display content at different focus depths, and able to accommodate user eyeglass prescriptions entirely in software. Pinlight displays use novel and very simple optics (containing no reflective, refractive, or diffractive elements) to provide the first see-through display that is both thin and wide field-of-view. Cascaded displays jointly optimize an image across two stacked offset displays to effectively double the frame rate and quadruple the resolution possible with a single display. All of these techniques exploit the computational horsepower of modern GPUs to enable unconventional optics to do something never done before in displays. I will close by highlighting some remaining challenges such as latency and power.

David Luebke helped found NVIDIA Research in 2006 after eight years teaching computer science on the faculty of the University of Virginia. David is currently Senior Director of Research at NVIDIA, where he continues the research on computer graphics and GPU architecture that led to his pioneering work on GPU computing. His honors include the NVIDIA Distinguished Inventor award, the NSF CAREER and DOE Early Career PI awards, and the ACM Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics "Test of Time Award". Dr. Luebke has co-authored a book, a SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater piece, a major museum exhibit visited by over 110,000 people, and dozens of papers, articles, chapters, and patents on computer graphics and GPU computing.