Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Convergence of Human and Display Evolution

Here’s another look at Monday’s short course, “Augmented and Virtual Reality: Towards Life-like Immersive and Interactive Experiences,” given by Intel’s Achin Bhowmik (who also blogs on these pages). Session attendees were treated to a most unexpected discussion that began with the Cambrian Explosion, which Bhowmik explained directly led to the evolution of the human visual system, and the basis of key issues those of us in the display industry need to consider today.

It was interesting to observe the overflow crowd of electrical and computer engineers suddenly confronted with the cold hard fact that biology, based on the distribution of photoreceptors in the human eye (yes, rods and cones), is driving key display requirements. Bhowmik explained that the human fovia consists of only cones (color receptors) and rods. Cones make up the periphery, with far more (orders of magnitude more) rods than cones in that space.  

Resolution and Field of View (FOV) were also discussed, with the assertion that we should be talking about pixels per degree (PPD) rather than PPI (per inch) specifications in HMD applications. Bhowmik said the human eye has an angular resolution of 1/60 of a degree, with each eye horizontal field of view (FOV) at 160 degrees and a vertical FOV of 175 degrees.

What all this portends is that the direction of display development is finally moving beyond speeds and feeds. For significant development to continue, serious consideration needs to be given to how the eye sees images and particularly color. Maybe it’s time to take a refresher course in Bio 101. -- Steve Sechrist  ​

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