Enabling a Virtual World


The meteoric rise in popularity of Pokémon Go is but the latest experience to help solidify augmented reality’s (AR) place in the next generation of computing and communication. Today’s AR applications take consumers closer to fully immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences, yet the industry is only at the beginning of this huge technology wave. And although current VR headsets demonstrate exciting capabilities, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible, and there’s a long way to go before you’ll find yourself in the Star Trek Holodeck.
What’s so exciting is how this new frontier brings together diverse and disruptive technologies like no other applications have before. AR and VR are driving fundamental technology innovations across display, computing, imaging and sensors. Billions of dollars have been invested in the AR/VR industry in the past two years and the number of companies with skin in the game is over 1,000.
Applied Materials’ Open Innovation Workshop brought together key stakeholders and thought leaders in augmented and virtual reality from across the value chain. Ideas were shared about the complex technical requirements for hardware needed to create immersive and interactive 3D environments. Presenters shared their visions and roadmaps for developing the next-generation computing systems, displays and advanced optics that are critical to enabling exciting new products and applications.
Key themes included power, performance, form factor, latency and cost, and a range of unique parameters to enhance the visual experience, like demand for higher and brighter resolution displays, flexible displays with larger viewing fields, new light field imaging systems, optical components for holographic images, smaller sensors and cameras, and new generations of graphics processors (CPUs, GPUs and vision processing units or VPUs).
Workshop participants agreed the industry must think radically different – beyond today’s computing and display technologies designed for PCs and mobile devices – if we are to achieve the visual and sensory experiences that future AR/VR systems will deliver. Applied showcased our role in providing technologies that enable the next generation of even more powerful processors, higher density displays and new types of optics using advanced roll-to-roll printing and deposition technologies.
The event was the latest example of Applied’s open innovation collaboration with stakeholders from around the world to leverage our process expertise and accelerate new applications and growth markets.
With AR/VR a key growth driver for Applied, I am especially excited about our role in bringing amazing new, immersive experiences to consumers with advanced displays and processing power that these technologies will require to reach their exciting potential.