The key features to look for while buying Smart glasses are their lightweight, low-power consumption and yet fashionable to wear them all day long. STMicroelectronics Laser Beam Scanning (LBS) technology is all set to revolutionize the Augmented Reality (AR) glasses market. It offers customers all-day-wearable smart glasses combined with features of Augmented Reality which brings information at eye level.
In a virtual media briefing, Davide BRUNO, Regional Vice President of AMS MEMS Marketing & Application and Smartphone Competence Center, Asia Pacific, STMicroelectronics explains why ST’s Laser Beam Scanning is the best technology for AR Glasses and how ST ensure the adoption and success of Laser Beam Scanning Based AR glasses in the market.
Check Boxes for All-Day-Wearable AR Glasses
LBS Solution satisfies all the paraments for realizing all-day-wearable AR Glasses. Davide BRUNO explains, the main focus of ST is to make Smart glasses similar to everyday eye-glasses that too with unique capabilities of AR. The form factor is a very important parameter that implies the size, weight, hardware and the entire product should have a very small footprint. Power Consumption is another factor that makes its usage practical. Smart Glasses should consume minimum power to have a longer battery to wear all day long without charging again and again. For outdoor they must achieve a specific brightness to have a comfortable image in the glass. For the performance of Display, they must obey the Field of View and Resolution factor. Davide BRUNO claims Laser Beam Scanning (LBS) technology is the only practical solution that checks all the boxes to enable all-day-wearable AR glasses.
ST The Leader in MEMS Market
ST has wide experience of working in MEMS designing, development and manufacturing for 20 years. It has secured #1 Micromachined actuators #1 for ink-jet printing MEMS Mirrors, #1 for XR and 3D scanning and #1 in Motion MEMS in Personal Electronics & Automotive telematics.
ST MEMS Mirrors Technologies
Briefing about MEMS mirrors, Davide said. “The core of the Augmented Reality of smart glasses is surely the mirrors. Because those are the elements that vibrate, move and generate the image in the glass.”
Though the smart glasses are not just the MEMS mirror. The enabler MEMS mirror is surely very important, but it is not the only component of smart glasses. The mirror drivers, laser drivers, and other components together make the complete AR Glasses system.
He further stated ST MEMS mirror has great scalability for Field of View (FOV) and resolution. There is no need for scaling up MEMS mirror, the mirror size can be kept the same for larger FOV and higher resolution if the customer demands.
LBS- the Mature Technology
LBS is not a new technology in the market it has already proved itself. ST’s success story of Laser Beam Scanning technology started 10 years ago, which was about 2012 with the first Pico projector.
LASER BEAM SCANNING
The RGB lights emitted from the Laser diode are collimated and then combined to projected into a MEMS mirror and this system is called an optical engine. The beam deflection is generally performed using a combination of two mirrors rotating on perpendicular axes. The light from the optical engine is coupled in the waveguide which is part of the smart glasses lens. ST has also designed an electrical module to control the laser diode and MEMS mirror. The complete System of AR glasses is comprised of MEMS mirror, the 3-in-1 laser diodes, the optical engine, the laser diode drivers and micro drivers and waveguide.
LBS vs Competitors. Why LBS is best?
Stressing on LBS advantages, Davide showed, LBS has low persistency when compared to µLED, LCoS and DLP. The laser response time of the LBS solution is 10nsec versus msec of competitors and due to MEMS scanning, which creates an image pixel by pixel thus providing low latency vs frame buffering from competitors. The high luminosity from the laser source helps in providing 106 nits brightness. Due to scanning characteristic line buffering cost less power consumption vs competitors’ frame buffering. The energy recovery drivers for Piezo mirrors can cost less power consumption. A laser driver has look-ahead logic for fast on/off transitions when a few consecutive pixels are off thus increasing power efficiency. The MEMS mirror has great scalability for FOV and resolution thus compact optical engine size.
ST MEMS SCAN AR
ScanAR is ST trademark for all the products that form the LBS solution. ST MEMS ScanAR is a one-stop shop for LBS. It comprises MEMS mirrors, MEMS mirror drivers, laser diode drivers, mirror control loops, and relay optics.
ST first reference design for AR smart glasses based on the MEMS ScanAR components, Dispelix’s lens, and Osram’s three-color RGB module is named Star0 and its second generation, Star1.
“MEMS Mirrors Will Surely Need the Piezo Electric Technology”
Using Thin Film Piezo MEMS mirror ST has already improved its Optical Engine for STAR1 which has FoV to up to 65o which is larger than the current 560 electrostatic MEMS mirror Optical Engine for SATR0 that are currently in mass production with ST partners.
The Resolution is increased from 600p to 720p while reducing the optical engine size to less than 0.7 cc which is not easy. The thin film Piezo MEMS mirror, For STAR1 optical engine design, consume 15% less power consumption than our original STAR0 solution. Davide concluded.
Under LaSAR alliance, ST along with its partners provides a complete ecosystem for AR Glasses, the alliance is composed of several key makers and experts in the market for the different blocks of the final smart glass solution. Like very small form factor for the laser diode is from OSRAM and waveguide elements from Dispelix and Applied Materials. Mega1 is responsible for integrating those devices into a small optical light engine. Quanta taking care of the final product.
ST Commitment Towards LBS
St has confirmed its leadership in LBS through partnerships and initiatives.
To provide a complete ecosystem to its customers and easy-to-market product offerings for smart glasses, ST launches LaSAR, an ecosystem to accelerate the development of Augmented Reality eyewear applications.
To foster and accelerate the development of the Piezoelectric MEMS, ST establishes the world’s first “Lab-in-Fab” in Singapore in partnership with A*STAR and ULVA.
ST and Quanta have joined hands to develop a reference design for the volume manufacturing of AR glasses.
ST has also collaborated with OQmented on the advancement of the technology for Augmented Reality and 3D-sensing markets.
Application Area of LBS Solution
Besides AR glass, LBS can be applied in LiDar and 3D sensing areas. For LiDar, it is for automotive; and 3D sensing can be applied in industrial applications like AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle). Along with that, it has some application in the medical field too.
ST plans to address the AR glass market and target the changing consumer needs
Answering above Davide said,” This is the question we had when we decided to start the LaSAR Alliance at the beginning. Because key makers like ST, OSRAM, Dispelix and Quanta must take care of the hardware system of the final smart glass while the key content makers will spend more time on their content. Because it is rightly said that consumer behaviour is changing very fast. So it is very important to provide fast time-to-market solutions and also have the same speed for the content. That is why we had the LaSAR Alliance in place.”
Davide shares his insights on which country and region grow the fastest in terms of the adoption of AR glasses. He stated America is driving faster in terms of developing the content for augmented reality and smart glasses. “If I look at the market from now to 5 years, I think many players in China and Asia will take over. For sure in terms of volume, it will be much higher. In terms of content, I think China will leverage its advantage, considering smart cities and the interaction of the smart glasses with the world around us.”
Can LBS technology effectively solve the problem of dizziness caused by AR glasses?
Davide: when we talk about augmented reality especially for smart glass, the user is not disconnected or taken away from the world around him as happens in virtual reality as images are projected very close to the user’s eyes, the brain cannot handle the dizziness problem. While in AR the digital content is displayed in the glass, and the user can still see the world he/ she has seen before. Thus, the brain does not have this mismatch of information and does not get this confusion. This explains why the dizziness is caused, and why it is not present in the smart glass so this is not the problem for AR glass.