NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X4.01-8749
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Space Assembly and Construction
PROPOSAL TITLE: Birefringent Microlens Array for Ultra High Resolution HMDs

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dimension Technologies Inc
315 Mt Read Blvd
Rochester, NY 14611-1982

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jesse B Eichenlaub
315 Mt Read Blvd
Rochester, NY 14611-1982

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will be used to analyze, design, model, and test a birefringent microlens array for use in a new type of ultra high resolution virtual reality display. DTI has demonstrated a technology that uses a rapidly scanned miniature LCD to produce images possessing much more resolution than the LCD itself. It accomplishes this by illuminating different subregions of each pixel during each scan, producing an image made up of the subregions instead of the pixels themselves. At present, custom made microdisplays with lens arrays embedded in the front glass are needed to focus light into the tiny pixel subregions. This Phase I program will assess the feasibility of a novel type of lens array that can be mounted outside the microdisplay glass and still focus light into the tiny pixel subregions. Such an element could be added to existing microdisplays after the microdisplays were manufactured, thus eliminating the need for custom microdisplays and allowing several off the shelf models to employ DTI's ultra high resolution technique at much lower cost. Products made with these displays hold the promise of new benchmarks in image fidelity and immersion in VR and tele-operated systems.

Displays resulting from this technology, capable of producing near vision limited resolution across a very wide field of view, could be combined with today's multi thousand line resolution cameras to produce, for the fist time, true visual immersion and resulting increases in speed and efficiency for the operators of remotely controlled robots and vehicles. Such displays could also accept input from computers to create extremely immersive virtual environments. These capabilities would be extremely useful in many inspection, construction, exploration, and simulation/training activities performed by NASA, both in space and on planetary surfaces

The availability of head mounted displays with resolutions and fields of view that match that of emerging multi thousand line cameras would be a boon to almost any remote control robotic or vehicle driving application. Combined with robotic technology spinoffs from programs like Robonaut, these displays could extend the benefits of high fidelity tele-operated systems to emergency departments, construction companies, mining operations, and warehousing. Such displays would also find broad application in simulation and training activities. Ultra high resolution head mounted displays would make simulation more practical for many commercial applications,. such as private aviation, medicine, driving schools, and entertainment.