Meta has unveiled two new research prototypes, Butterscotch Varifocal and Flamera, showcasing advancements in mixed reality headsets. These devices serve as proofs of concept and will be showcased at the SIGGRAPH conference. While Butterscotch Varifocal combines retinal and varifocal displays, Flamera focuses on a novel approach to perspective-correct and distortion-free passthrough. This headset is a bit different from the previous meta headset
Flamera addresses a common issue with passthrough technology, where the camera sensors are not aligned with the user’s eyes, resulting in an unnatural viewing perspective. Meta’s solution is Light Field Passthrough, employing a flat camera fed with specific light rays through an aperture, enabling computational synthesis of the natural point of view. This approach delivers higher image quality and lower latency compared to traditional passthrough methods.
As these prototypes are research concepts, it remains uncertain whether they will be integrated into Meta’s future products.
Video shows Flamera from new perspectives
Research scientist Nathan Matsuda has released a video showcasing the Flamera prototype from different angles. Surprisingly, the headset appears remarkably flat and thin despite housing displays and cameras.
@nathanmatsuda just shared a behind-the-scenes clip of our upcoming Flamera demo at #SIGGRAPH2023. This gives a better view of how thin the headset is, including both the display system and the new light-field camera module. pic.twitter.com/Wv7o0eCXSn
— Douglas Lanman (@douglaslanman) August 2, 2023
The slim design is a crucial aspect as Flamera’s technology performs optimally when the sensors are placed closer to the eyes. The research team managed to achieve a 35-millimeter distance between the eyes and the two camera modules by relocating a significant portion of the electronics to the flexes, as evident in the video.
The flatness and thinness of Flamera’s technology raise the possibility of compatibility with Meta’s ambitious headset concept, Mirror Lake, currently under development. Meta’s Display Systems Research Director, Douglan Lanman, expressed optimism about the future of light field passthrough technology, highlighting its potential to address user experience and form factor challenges in upcoming mixed reality headsets.
More details about Flamera are expected to be revealed during the SIGGRAPH conference, where attendees will have the opportunity to try out the headset.