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Curved Waveguide Visor Display (CWVD)


OBJECTIVE: Develop a curved transparent holographic optical waveguide visor for helmet-mounted display (HMD) applications that provides 100X more eye-movement freedom with 10X less space and weight of near-eye pieces. DESCRIPTION: Recent developments in the fabrication of holographic waveguide optics systems make it possible to replace bulky, expensive, multi-element classical projection optics systems with light-weight, thin see-through diffractive optics. This effort is aimed at leveraging this optics revolution for next-generation aviation helmet visualization systems. The classical optics now in use result in excessive weight and bulk on the head and poor ergonomics, with massive helmet clip-ons for night or day vision being cantilevered in front of the eyes. Even so, the classical systems do NOT provide the high acuity and large fields-of-view desired by warfighters. Current HMD systems, such as the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), are based on a bulky, expensive, large classical optics to relay a miniature display image to the eye via reflection off the inner surface of the helmet visor and produce a small FOV (e.g. 20-deg.), which requires much head scanning to maintain situational awareness, and a small eyebox (e.g. 9x9-mm), which requires custom helmet fit and may cause image loss during maneuver. A compounding problem is the need to address laser eye protection, where proposed solutions based on classical optics would add even more weight and bulk, making them non-solutions."Optical magic"is needed to re-set the stage for a new generation of lightweight, yet more capable, HMD systems. Recent advances in holographic optics by researchers in several institutions have demonstrated the potential for the optical image magnification function to be implemented within thin waveguide structures. The potential exists to integrate the projection optics into the structure of the HMD visor itself, including curved visors. Threshold optical performance sought includes, simultaneously, binocular green HMD system with at least 1280x1024/eye (1.3 Mpx) resolution, a 40-deg. field-of-view (FOV), an eye box of over 30x30-mm, a pathway to color, and 10X less space, 5X less weight, and 2X less cost than current helmet projection optics. Power efficiency must be addressed and shown to be consistent with integration into a pilot HMD system. Objective performance includes a binocular color panoramic FOV of 120x80-deg with near 20/20 acuity (requires 5 Mpx for each 40-deg-cone of the FOV). This topic focuses on the design, prototyping, and demonstration of a curved, transparent holographic waveguide visor display (CWVD). The image generation device included in the design may be based on either a current or a proposed new technology. PHASE I: Design a binocular CWVD system for a combat pilot HMD capable of presenting 1280x1024 monochrome imagery from a flat panel microdisplay in 40-deg. field-of-view (FOV) to the same quality as currently done with the micro-CRT and classical optics. Develop pathways to color. PHASE II: Fabricate a day/night CWVD system that provides, at a minimum, binocular monochrome 1280x1024 imagery in a 40-deg. FOV on curved, transparent, holographic optical waveguides integrated into a visor. Demonstrate capability of waveguide to support higher resolution displays (5 Mpx in 40-deg FOV). Demonstrate viability of color. PHASE III: Design product for military applications that replace classical optics in HMD systems with curved, thin, light, ergonomic diffractive optics. Design non-military products for homeland security for coastal and border patrol, aerial firefighting, highway patrol, and entertainment systems. REFERENCES: 1. Paul Wisely et al.,"Visor Display System,"AFRL-HE-WP-TR-2006-0055 (April 2006). Distribution limited to US Government Agencies until 29 September 2009; abstract available. Direct requests to 711HPW/RHCV, WPAFB OH 45433. 2. Leon Eisen, Michael Meyklyar, Micael Golub, Asher A. Friesem, Ioseph Gurwich, and Victor Weiss,"Planar configuration for image projection,"Applied Optics, Volume 45, Issue 17, pp. 4005-4011 (10 June 2006), & uri=ao-45-17-4005 (accessed 1 March 2009). 3. Alexander A. Cameron,"Displaying the Night--A Revolutionary Concept for Helmet Mounted Displays,"Sheppard 2007 Night Vision Conference (30 October 2007);"The application of holographic optical waveguide technology to the Q-Sight family of helmet-mounted displays,"in Head- and Helmet-Mounted Displays XIV: Design and Applications, Proceedings of SPIE Volume 7326, Paper 7326-16 (16 April 2009), available from (in press). 4."The Q-Sight family of helmet display Products,"BAE Systems product brochure, accessed 1 March 2009: http://www.baesystem" 5."Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) Overview," and (accessed 1 March 2009).
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