Optical technologies paving the road from defense HMDs

to consumer VR / AR headsets, Smart Glasses and Smart Eyewear

 Dr. Bernard Kress

Principal Optical Architect, Google Glass Project, Google [X] Labs

Friday, October 10, 2014 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM@ CREOL  103


Helmet Mounted Displays (HMDs) and Head Up Displays (HUDs) have been used extensively over the last decades in the defense sector. The complexity of the design and the fabrication of high quality see-through combiner optics to achieve high resolution over a large FOV have prevented their use in consumer electronic devices. Occlusion Head Mounted Displays (HMD) have also been used in the defense sector for simulation and training purposes, over similar large FOV, packed with custom head tracking and eye gesture sensors. Recently, a paradigm shift to consumer electronics has occured as part of the wider wearable computing effort. Technologies developed for the smart phone industry have been used to build smaller, lower power, cheaper, electronics. Similarly, novel integrated sensors and micro-displays have enabled the development of consumer electronic smart glasses and smart eyewear, professional AR (Augmented Reality) HMDs as well as VR (Virtual Reality) headsets. Reducing the FOV while addressing the needs for an increased exit pupil alongside stringent industrial design constrains have been pushing the limits of the design techniques available to the optical engineer (refractive, catadioptric, micro-optic, segmented Fresnel, waveguide, diffractive, holographic, …). However, the integration of the optical combiner within conventional meniscus prescription lenses is a challenge that has yet to be solved. We will review how various optical design techniques have been applied to such tasks, as well as the various head-worn devices developed to date. Finally, we will review additional optical technologies applied as input mechanisms (eye and head gesture sensing, gaze tracking and hand gesture sensing).



For over 20 years, Bernard has made significant scientific contributions as a researcher, professor, consultant, advisor, instructor, and author, in the field of micro-optics, diffractive optics and holography for research, industry and consumer electronics. He has been involved in half a dozen start-ups in the Silicon Valley on optical data storage, optical telecom, optical position sensors and display (picos, HUDs and HMDs). Bernard holds 28 international granted patents and 30 patents applications. He has published more than 100 proceeding papers and 18 refereed journal papers. He is a short course instructor for the SPIE on micro-optics, diffractive optics and wafer scale optics. He has published three books edited by John Wiley and Sons and Mac Graw Hill and a field guide by SPIE. He has been chairman of the SPIE conference “Photonics for Harsh Environments” for the past three years. He is currently with Google [X] working on the Google Glass project as principal Optical Architect.


For more information:

SID UCF Student Branch Chair: Fenglin Peng,

SID UCF Student chapter advisor: Prof. Shin-Tson Wu,

IEEE Photonics Society Chair: Ruidong Zhu,