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Foveated Headworn Display Demonstrator


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a foveated headworn display that uses an eye tracker to determine eye location and provides high resolution to the display where the eye is pointed and lower resolution to other areas of the display for power, heat, and bandwidth reduction. 

DESCRIPTION: High resolution microdisplays are essential for providing the human interface to high resolution digital sensors and wide field of view augmented and mixed reality vision systems used for Soldier Lethality. Reduction of power, bandwidth, and head borne heat of these microdisplays is important for all DoD application, but it is especially important for untethered infantry. The resolution of the eye is very high in the area of the fovea, but it is greatly reduced in all other areas, so most of the resolution on a wide field of view large format microdisplay is not being used – only the part within the eye’s fovea is. A 2,048 x 2,048 reconfigurable microdisplay capable of reduced power operation with a moveable full-resolution window within a field of reduced resolution has been developed under government contract and is available as GFE for this effort, but an alternative display solution is also acceptable. Coupling a reconfigurable display with an eyepiece and an eye tracker would allow power to be saved by keeping the high resolution area of the display only where the fovea is located. This project would determine if a foveated display can provide sufficient performance compared to a 100% full resolution display while reducing power and bandwidth. The Offeror shall develop a foveated HMD demonstrator that includes an eye tracker to determine the eye pointing location and thereby keep the high resolution foveal display spot in synch with the user’s line of sight. 

PHASE I: Create a notional design for the demonstrator. Build a demonstrator that can be large scale (desktop display and computer) that shows eye tracking and reduces the resolution (electronically or optically) of the display in areas outside the fovea (TRL 4). 

PHASE II: Build demonstrator with an eye tracker and >1080p HMD (can use GFE Reconfigurable Display) that can be reconfigured with its own electronics or with software/hardware built by the Offeror that includes a reduction in power in the foveated mode vs. full resolution (TRL 5). The demonstrator will be used to examine the visual performance for detecting and responding to peripheral visual cues based on the interaction of the foveal area profile vs. the reduced display resolution threshold in the peripheral zone. The demonstrator will include a way to measure the power for full vs. reduced resolution. 

PHASE III: Implement the foveated display design into a military HMD, possibly partnering with a HMD manufacturer (TRL 6). Address integration issues, cost, and power reduction vs. design complexity. 


1: Clarence E. Rash et al., Helmet-Mounted Displays: Sensation, Perception and Cognition Issues, ed. Clarence E. Rash, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (2009)

2:  Kyle R. Bryant, "Foveated Optics", SPIE Proceeding Volume 9822 Advanced Optics for Defense Applications: UV through LWIR (2016)

3:  Marcus Nystrom, Kenneth Homqvist, "Deriving and evaluating eye-tracking controlled volumes of interest for variable-resolution video compression", SPIE Journal of Electronic Imaging Vol 16, No 1 (2007)

KEYWORDS: Microdisplay, Foveated Display, Reconfigurable Display 

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