Heightened reality: VR experts give optics wish list


a virus were to land on one of them.

On 1 March 2016, when

the scientists took control of the satellites, LISA Pathfinder was already operating better than the requirements for the mission, and the latest readings from January 2017 show that it is about 50 per cent below the full LISA requirement at all frequencies, according to Danzmann. The importance of LISA is

that it will cover a region of detection not possible with ground-based instruments. Danzmann said the space-based detector will cover everything, out to the complete universe with extremely high signal-to- noise ratio. Ten years ago, the two black holes detected on the 14 September 2015 would have been orbiting each other very slowly at low frequency. Danzmann explained that this is right in the middle of the LISA sensitivity. If LISA had been up there 10 years ago, he said, the collision could have been predicted in advance, the timing to fractions of a second and the direction in the sky to fractions of a square degree. ‘I can guarantee you every

large piece of glass on this planet would have looked in that direction during that second,’ he said, to see if they could detect any electromagnetic radiation left over from the event.

12 Electro Optics March 2017 The LISA consortium has

advanced its schedule. The call for mission concepts closed in the autumn of 2016 and the decision on implementation will follow in 2020. Danzmann closed his

presentation by paying tribute to Professor Dr Heinz Billing, Danzmann’s predecessor at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, who died on 4 January 2017 aged 102. Billing was one of a handful of scientists studying gravitational

“The importance of LISA is that it will cover a region of detection not possible with ground-based instruments”

waves in the 1970s, work that has led to detectors like LIGO. ‘He’s the most modest scientist I’ve ever met,’ Danzmann said.

When Danzmann started

working for the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics 27 years ago, Billing promised to stay alive until gravitational waves were discovered. ‘We did our best. I promised it to him, but I had no idea it would take 27 years to fulfil this. But, he was there to see them, to hear them, to enjoy it.’ EO

Greg Blackman reports from a panel discussion on virtual reality, where headset optical design will be instrumental for a better user experience


hat will wearing the next generation of virtual reality (VR) headsets be like? Devices like Oculus Rift and

HTC Vive have brought VR to the masses, but advances in hardware, not least the optical design, are going to determine to a large extent the kind of graphics content that can run on these headsets and, ultimately, the user experience. There’s still work to be done on

the optical science side of VR, Scott McEldowney, lead optics researcher at Oculus, commented during the panel session on 31 January discussing the main optical challenges for VR devices. ‘Getting photons to the right places on

our retinas at the right time is going to be key,’ he said. In the next three to five years,

McEldowney said that it’s not unrealistic to think VR headsets could incorporate 4K resolution displays. The question then to ask, he said, is how best to use all those pixels?

An HD mobile phone screen has a

pixel density of around 500 pixels per inch, which Amazon’s Leo Baldwin, who was moderating the session, noted in his introduction might look fantastic in your hand 20 inches away, but up against your face will still have visible pixels. That’s

@electrooptics |

The SXS (Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes) Project

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