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Next Generation Enhanced Augmented Reality 3D Glasses for medical education, pre-procedural planning, intra-procedural visualization, and patient rehabilitation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NGEAR 3D (Next Generation Enhanced Augmented Reality 3D Glasses for medical education, pre-procedural planning, intra-procedural visualization, and patient rehabilitation)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-07-01 bis 2022-06-30

Augmented reality (AR) is set to revolutionize the healthcare sector, especially for medical imaging technology for application in surgeries, radiologic diagnostics and medical practice. However, at the very state-of-the-art, the challenge is to derive a practical near-eye display for AR glasses. The current AR devices cause eye strain, fatigue and sickness due to the ‘vergence–accommodation (VA) conflict’ and are not suited for near-work (crucial for healthcare application) due to focal rivalry of stereoscopic 3D image and the real world. These adverse effects have constrained more rapid expansion of VR/AR 3D display market in spite of huge demand.

NGEAR3D is a state-of-the-art multi-focal accommodating AR headset that eliminates all adverse effects of existing headsets and outputs holographic look 3D images. It completely solves current pains of near-work application with VA conflict for true application of AR in the healthcare sector. The NGEAR3D is compact, lightweight and wearable around the head and fits comfortably to both eyes (binocular vision). It is ideal for healthcare professionals who require 3D glasses for near eye imaging and can be safely used for long hours without discomfort to eyes and mind.

The core technology of NGEAR3D is the proprietary liquid-crystal optical switcher elements, that can be electronically switched between transparent and optically diffusive state in <500 microseconds. Several optical diffuser elements are stacked to form a discrete volume - volumetric 3D display. This static volumetric technology provides real 3D volumetric holographic imagery, thus matching it perfectly to the real world.

When applied for healthcare applications, it improves efficiency of surgeon & reduces time required, risks and medical complications of operations leading to more patients receiving treatment sooner. NGEAR3D will be a disrupting link for the image guided surgery to really take-off and benefit patients and medical patient & medical personnel.
First activities in project development included development and optimization of Multi Focal Optical Element (MFOE) - Liquid crystal composition improvements has been performed and completed. Production of initial samples for testing completed. Materials for another formulation, which have wider temperature range, was developed in supply process too. Along with liquid crystal materials also manufacturing process was developt. Development and optimization work of multi focal optical element was accomplished. The redesigned MFOF drawing and specification has been drafted with several thickness options. Lamination trials with glass models shows that process has been optimized also for thinner glass. Thinner glass samples have been manufactured and tested. Process specification has been finalized – overall work completed.

It followed by Headset product development and engineering. Detailed engineering specification and requirements document and specification have been developed. Important specifications were included, including definition of number and positions of optical focal planes, head tracking technology and eye tracking technology. Optimal fast data transfer and MFOE driving platform development has started including work on optimized data transfer. The image formatter PCB has been redesigned and prototypes built that improves image quality, reproduction and data interface (using standard Display Port 1.4 specification) to the image source (GPU computer) and to interface the DLP unit (also image display unit based on micro-OLED displays) with PCB connection. This has been achieved by improving image data transfer (up to 24Gbps) and introduction of high-speed INTEL FPGA based data formatter processor chip.

Development and optimisation of AR projection optics of NGEAR3D has been performed to ensure required optical performance, functionality, dimensions, weight and manufacturability. The NGEAR3D has been redesigned to be lighter, with an optical combiner that will limit parasitic reflections. Signal data path development started, including small size data source device development. Task involves the development of a compact graphical computer for transfer of image data for the NGEAR3D headset. Optionally a single PCB are in design process to carry out required functionality. Several interim prototypes have been tested and connectivity data transmission path has been developed to verify key parts.

Further development of rendering engine was continued including developmentof the computing pack platform including rendering pipeline and control of the NGEAR3D headset device, with minimal motion-to-photon latency. The firmware stack data path development started with high-speed digital signal transfer implementation over appropriate carrier (USB-C, DisplayPort, or WiFi6E).

Inittial work started un industrial design of the product and packaging for user experience and ergonomics. Work include modeling and manufacture prototypes.

The patent portfolio of Lightspace has grown by 6 new inventions securing innovation potential for further improvements of multi-focal technology
Lightspace has developed several key enabling technologies in optics and spatial computing to realize multi focal AR headsets and head up displays.
During project first half team filed 6 patents enabling freedom of operation into new technology area further improving existing technology.

Several validation tests carried out with global leading healthcare technology providers in surgical and specifically robotic surgical navigation have validated superiority and uniquness on market with companies multi focal near eye display technology.

During project implementation Lightspace have established strategic partnerships with recognized companies in the field of medical equipment manufacturing and medical augmented reality software solutions.

All technical objectives of the project have been met which have resulted in finalized production-level device.
A solid network of interested partners has been developed. Main partner organisations are large medical equipement producers. All of the companies have expressed interest in incorporating the multifocal technology in their AR product line-up. During this time two head-mounted display systems have been already sold to two AR application developers.
NGEAR3ED headset validation tests at Riga Austrumu Clinical Hospital.