Today’s virtual reality headsets are universally big — closer to goggles than glasses, and even then, larger and heavier than modern ski goggles. While Facebook has shown prototypes of , it’s made of its interest in creating that can be . Now it’s revealing a holographic optical architecture designed for thinner, lighter VR headsets, which it expects will appear in future “high performance AR/VR” devices.

Discussed in a Siggraph 2020 research paper titled “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” the system uses flat films to create a VR display only slightly thicker than today’s typical smartphones. Facebook’s “pancake optics” design combines several thin layers of holographic film with a laser projection system and directional backlights, delivering either flat imagery or volumetric holograms depending

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