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  • Writer's pictureAssaf Levy-Beeri

Holistic Development Approach in AR Headsets: Integrating Optical Design and Electro-Optics

Updated: May 2


In the rapidly evolving area of Augmented Reality (AR) systems, the integration of optical design and electro-optics is crucial for achieving a holistic system development approach. This article delves deeper into the significance of considering micro-displays, electro-optics, and non-imaging aspects as integral components in the development of AR headsets and goes beyond traditional imaging parameters and optical lens design. This holistic approach seeks to optimize overall system performance to achieve a high-end AR experience.

Traditional AR Development Process

Imaging-Centric Focus

The conventional AR development process has historically been centered around optical design, where key parameters are derived primarily from imaging optics. These parameters include Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), exit pupil size, and Field of View (FOV). The selection of optical concepts is based on these guidelines, and a trade-off is performed to narrow down to 1 or 2 primary concepts.

Display Source Selection Constraints

Once the primary optical concept is established, the project development team searches for an appropriate display source. However, the fixed optical concept often imposes constraints on the display source choice. This can lead to non-optimal display selections, neglecting critical non-imaging design requirements like see-through contrast, color performances, and display viewing angles.

Compromises and Challenges

As the project progresses and non-imaging parameters such as see-through contrast, color performances, and Contrast Ratio (CR) are evaluated, challenges arise. In many instances, these crucial non-imaging requirements are not fully met, presenting the development team with limited options:

  1. Optical System Redesign: Restarting the design process involves significant time, effort, and resource investment, making it a challenging and rarely feasible decision.

  2. Relying on Technology Improvements: compromising on a lower-performing display technology with the hope that future improvements will align with project expectations. However, this approach carries high risks, as technology advancements are unpredictable.

  3. Continuing with Compromised Design: Proceeding with the current design despite non-imaging and overall system performances falling short of expectations. This compromises user satisfaction, as issues like low luminance, washed-out colors, or undesirable artifacts may arise.

Contrast Ratio and Curtain Effect on High background in See-through AR products
Contrast Ratio and Curtain Effect in See-through AR products

Our Approach for AR Optical System Development

User-Centric Key Parameters Definition

Recognizing the limitations of the traditional approach, our holistic development process places a strong emphasis on defining key parameters derived directly from user needs. This user-centric approach ensures that the development aligns with real-world usage scenarios, providing a foundation for a more comprehensive consideration of both imaging and non-imaging aspects.

Team Collaboration for Optical Concepts

Unlike the traditional model, our approach encourages a constant collaboration between the optical designer and the electro-optics designer. This collaboration extends to both imaging and non-imaging aspects, promoting a full understanding of key parameters. The multidisciplinary teamwork proves crucial in formulating optical concepts that address all aspects of system development.

Trade-off Considering Combined Key Parameters

With optical concepts in place, our development process incorporates a trade-off phase that considers the combined key parameters. This approach allows for a better decision-making process, accounting for both imaging and non-imaging aspects. The iterative nature of this trade-off phase ensures a balanced and informed selection of the optimal optical system.

Continuous Feedback Loop in Development

As the development progresses, our holistic approach maintains a continuous feedback loop between imaging and non-imaging designers. This ongoing collaboration ensures that both optical design and display unit design evolve synergistically, minimizing the risk of discrepancies and optimizing the overall system's performance.

Benefits of Holistic Development

Risk Mitigation

While the holistic approach may initially appear time-intensive, it significantly mitigates project risks. The minimized need for redesigns results in more efficient utilization of resources and development time in the long run.

Optimal System Solution

The holistic approach consistently delivers optimal working points for the system solution without compromising performances. This not only meets imaging key requirements but also ensures higher production yield, lower production costs, and a broader range of optical manufacturing options.

Enhanced Project Management

Equipping project management with tools to make informed decisions, the holistic approach allows for early evaluations of system development paths. This leads to accurate risk assessments, saving time, money, and resources.

Clear Communication and Expectations

Stakeholders benefit from clearer communication and well-coordinated expectations. This transparency fosters a more efficient and collaborative development process, enhancing the overall success of the project.


Implementing a holistic development approach that integrates optical design and electro-optics is one of the keys for the success of AR system development. By considering both imaging and non-imaging aspects from the project's inception, this approach offers the best chance to produce optimal working points and deliver exceptional value to the customer.


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