Karl Guttag Interview Parts 2 and 3 On The AR Show Podcast

Jason McDowall has posted parts 2 and 3 of his “The AR Show Podcast” interview with me.  Links to the show are below or you can subscribe to the podcast.

Karl Guttag (KGOnTech) on Microdisplay Technologies and the Hype of Holograms (Part 2)

Karl Guttag (KGOnTech) on the Misplaced Expectations of Magic Leap and the Challenge of Consumer-Grade Smartglasses (Part 3)

I’m afraid I rambled on a bit about collimated light in part 2 (Jason included a sidebar discussion to help straighten it out), repeated the same things a few times, and also used OLED when I meant LED a few times. I was a bit painful for me to listen to myself, but I think there is still some good information for those willing struggle through it. Part 3 is the “Grand Finale” where we get to discussing Magic Leap and is easier to follow.


Show Notes on Part 2

Karl Guttag writes a popular technology blog at kguttag.com where he dissects optics and display systems, including the efforts of Magic Leap. In this, the second of three parts of our conversation, Karl and I get into the details and tradeoffs of display technologies used in smartglasses. (For more on Karl, check out the previous episode.)

This episode is almost a masterclass in microdisplays.

In several years, you’re not going to care about the nitty gritty details of microdisplays. But if you are making decisions dependent on the timing and growth rate of consumer-grade AR smartglasses, you should care. The biggest barrier – the most important missing ingredient – to consumer-grade smartglasses is the display. Based on the technology available today, there is NO WAY Apple ships smartglasses in 2020. Karl estimates it’s going to take 5+ years for the display systems to be good enough. You’ll make better decisions about where and when to invest if you understand where the false promises are, where the real hope lies, and why it’s so hard.

Bottom line: until we have micro LED for microdisplays (not the same thing as Samsung’s micro LED TV tech), we’re stuck with LCOS and claims from micro OLED manufacturers that they will be good enough.

In this episode, we’ll dig into the attributes of microdisplay systems, some of the characteristics of light, and the available display technologies. We get into the weeds on this one.

Show Notes on Part 3

To wrap up this episode, Karl debunks holograms – both the ones portrayed in Star Wars and the term thrown about by Microsoft and other AR companies.

This is the third and final part of my conversation with Karl Guttag. Karl writes a popular technology blog at kguttag.com where he dissects optics and display systems, including the efforts of Magic Leap.  (For more on Karl’s background, the history of early computing, and a deep dive in micro display technology, check out the previous two episodes.)

In this conversation, Karl talks about how hard it is to create compact, Ray-Ban-inspired smartglasses, especially at an affordable price. Karl describes the micro LED microdisplay as a missing, but necessary, ingredient for smartglasses – similar to the importance of transistors to computers. While we had vacuum tubes, they weren’t good enough to deliver computers on every desk or in every pocket. We needed the innovation of transistors to make that transition,  just as we need micro LED microdisplays and better combiner optics for smartglasses today.

Karl deconstructs the recent sneak peek of Magic Leap’s smartglasses and shares some choice words about their efforts. He also laments the plight of honest engineers looking to raise money to build real products.

We keep it relatively high level in this one, and I think this is an insightful and entertaining episode that you’re going to love.



Karl Guttag
Karl Guttag
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