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Photonics Spectra
Since 1967, Photonics Spectra magazine has defined the science and industry of photonics, providing both technical and practical information for every aspect of the global industry and promoting an international dialogue among the engineers, scientists and end users who develop, commercialize and buy photonics products. Stay current with a FREE subscription to the digital or print edition.

Latest Issue
May 2019

Everything is in the headset


That was the year when, according to a fascinating AR/VR infographic from and reposted to, AR got started. In 1838, Charles Wheatstone, a professor of experimental philosophy, invented the stereoscope, a device for viewing images in 3D. Since then, there has been a range of ocular devices for education, entertainment, and business — the kinetoscope, flight simulators, the View-Master, the Telesphere Mask, NASA’s Virtual Interface Environment Workstation, and the Sword of Damocles — to name a few.

For those not entirely clear on the differences, AR layers graphics or information, via a smartphone or spectacles, on top of one’s physical world. Head-up displays (HUDs) are visual overlays that project digital data on a screen or windshield; for example, to a pilot or driver. Mixed reality (MR) creates spaces that merge computer processing with input from human and physical worlds. And VR is a completely immersive experience that blocks out one’s physical surroundings.

Those who work with each type of reality are aiming to not only improve user experience, but to meet a range of needs across commercial, industrial, corporate, medical, entertainment, or consumer markets. This translates into a tremendous amount of innovation, conversation, attention, investment, and curiosity in this space now.

Recently, I came across a video of a man who experimented with living inside a VR headset for 168 hours — an entire week. Admittedly, it was hard to watch. While he seemed very glad at the end to emerge and get back to the natural world, he provided some interesting commentary throughout the experience:

“Float above the Earth. Watch a Space X launch. Everything you do will be tracked. Time is a concept. The sun cannot be seen. You can find your digital tribe. VR menus will infiltrate your dreams. It is a new medium for human experience. Anyone can make their own environment. Everything is in the headset.”

Based on the number of views — 16 million in a month! — he may be right: Everything is in the headset.

To learn about holographic combiners and recent developments in optics for AR and HUDs, read Pierre-Alexandre Blanche’s feature. And, to find out more about the role of freeform and nontraditional optics in AR/VR, have a look at Farooq Ahmed’s article.

Enjoy additional articles on characterizing quantum dots, multidimensional coherent spectroscopy, optical coatings, and imaging for quantum materials research.

Mike Wheeler
An accomplished journalist and editor, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonic Media's editorial operations, spanning print, online, and video. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advances in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Susan Petrie
Susan Petrie is Senior Editor of Photonics Spectra and has two decades of experience with print and digital publications. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Bennington College.
Justine Murphy
Senior Editor Justine Murphy is an award-winning journalist with 20 years of experience in newspaper and magazine publishing, marketing, and public relations. She is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics and produces industry-focused podcasts.
Robin Riley
Multimedia/Web Editor Robin Riley has 30+ years of experience in communications and marketing for a range of technical industries. She is a regular contributor to web content and social media, and organizes and produces custom and editorial webinars.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
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