Video pass-through

There are essentially two ways we might end up doing augmented reality with a future pair of AR glasses: Optical see-through and video pass-through. The first works a bit like Google Glass: Computer graphics are superimposed on the literal reality around you.

The second is a lot like today’s AR smartphone apps, and is sort of like watching the world around you on television: Two little video cameras capture what your left and right eye would normally see, computer graphics are superimposed, and when you look around, you end up seeing the resulting altered reality.

Optical see-through has the advantage that you literally see reality, just with virtual stuff superimposed on it. This is how Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap do it.

Video pass-through has the advantage that you can transform the reality around you into literally anything at all, like the way smartphone AR apps can transform reality — except you will be able to do it just by looking with your eyes, rather than needing to peer into a little handheld screen.

I think that in the long run, the future will belong to video pass-through, because it is inherently far more powerful. In the short run it will suffer from lower resolution and other artifacts. But eventually, as technology advances, those artifacts will go away.

And that coming revolution just got a boost: Sometime next year, the forthcoming Oculus 2 VR headset will allow you to add video pass-through to the experiences you create. That will mark the real beginning of the revolution.

3 thoughts on “Video pass-through”

  1. Video passthrough would have the advantage that no corrective glasses would be required anymore, which also would be attractive.

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