SA Photonics Shows High Brightness See-Thru Module

High performance HMD maker SA Photonics showed their range of monocular and binocular head-mounted Displays (HMDs) at I/ITSEC 2016. Of note was their new monocular see-thru module that features a new OLED panel from eMagin.

eMagin has not released any details on this new panel and Mike Brown of SA was careful not to say too much, but his signage gave a pretty good clue about the new panel. As noted in the photo below, the OLED type is red-green-yellow with the ability to display “everything in between”. eMagin OLED panels in the past have all featured a white OLED with RGB color filters, but this panel may be using red and green OLED materials. What is unclear is if this is a stacked solution or an RG pattern on a single layer.

SA Photonics 1 In terms of brightness, the unit will produce over 1000 FtL and has about a 10 mm eyebox width, which is adequate for this application. The green looked well saturated, but the red was not very saturated. This appears to be deliberate choice to increase brightness over color saturation.

The field of view is a wide 62º and the virtual focal length is about 13′ (4m), but when wearing the headset, the images appeared to be only about 2-3 feet away (0.6-0.9m). Brown said this is a human factors issue that seems to have a stronger effect when looking at symbology. “The brain just interprets text and symbols as being closer even though it is virtually focused at a greater distance,” explained Brown. He said I could confirm this by first focusing on a distant object and then looking at the symbology. Indeed, both were in focus simultaneously.

Brown also noted that many of its Army customers are now getting away from rugged PC solutions and standardizing on Samsung Galaxy S5 phones as their main processing unit using ATAK software. These are obviously a lot less expensive, but not built for rugged military use. As a result, SA Photonic has produced a battery pack/rugged housing for the smartphone. He then showed the unit coupled to one of their see-thru headsets, which will be upgraded soon to the new high-brightness RGY module described above. – CC