Lark Optics is targeting your retina for AR without the nausea and other discomfort

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Whether you believe it’s the future of everything, or just a useful tool that will be part of the mix of technology we regularly use in a few years from now, augmented reality is a rapidly evolving field. Which has one major drawback – like VR, it can leave you feeling sick.

For example, US troops who tried out Microsoft’s HoloLens glasses last year suffered “‘mission-impacting physical impairments’ including headaches, eye strain and nausea,” according to Bloomberg. informed of,

While the technology “could bring $1.5 trillion in net economic benefits by 2030” according to pwcThis disease is a major inhibitor of the development of AR and VR.

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A startup is based in Cambridge to tackle the problem Lark OpticsWhich has developed a way to circumvent the issues that cause these problems.

“In the real world, we perceive depth by moving and focusing our eyes. Two different signs need to work in harmony. However, in all existing AR glasses, these signals are fundamentally mismatched,” explains Pawan Shrestha, CEO of Lark Optics.

The focus on the ‘virtual screen’ on augmented reality glasses means users have to switch focus between the real world and the augmented one. This depth mismatch causes physical discomfort and conditions such as nausea, dizziness, eye strain and headache.

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What Lark Optics does differently, Shrestha says, is that it projects the augmented reality image onto the user’s retina. This means that the AR is always in focus no matter what your eyes do to adjust to the real world around you.

So far the startup has developed a proof of concept and is now iterating to refine its demonstrable model. Shrestha says they conducted two successful user studies with their proof of concept; One in his lab and the other with an external partner he prefers not to name.

when the technology is ready, they want to use a supposed models for production of the components they design, which they will then sell to original equipment manufacturers who make AR headsets.

Given that they’re addressing such a fundamental challenge to mass adoption of AR, it’s not surprising that other companies are tackling it in other ways (more on that below). But Shrestha says his startup’s approach is the most efficient in terms of processing power and battery power, and doesn’t affect the user’s field of vision.

Shrestha grew up in rural Nepal (“Really rural… I was about nine years old before I saw electric lights”). He says his parents’ enthusiasm for his education eventually led him to New Zealand where he earned a master’s degree in electronics engineering from the University of Waikato.

keen to develop technology that he can commercialize, he says he has developed a interferometer, While that venture didn’t come to fruition, his work led him to pursue a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he saw the commercial potential of a new approach to AR displays.

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“It was scientifically challenging, but it was also something that could touch many lives,” he says.

Shrestha co-founded Lark Optics (formerly known as AR-X Photonics) with his friend Xin Chang and Daping Chu, who previously supervised Shrestha and Chang’s PhD work. The three have been working together for nearly a decade, but only started last year with Lark Optics,

Shrestha says this week he is joined by a new recruit, Andreas Georgiou, who previously worked at Microsoft as a principal researcher in the field of optical engineering.