Great New Book on AR/MR/XR Displays


Between going to CES and Photonic’s West AR/VR/MR conference, plus travel for work, I have a large backlog of material to write about. I’m going to start with a new book that was published. In talking we others at Photonics West, everyone working in AR and MR should get this book.

The AR/VR/MR conferences within Photonics West was exceptional in both the presentations and the ability to have off-line discussions with key industry people. Bernard Kress, the same person that wrote the book I am going to write about below, did an exceptional job starting this conference in the first place and then shepherding it.

Bernard Kress’s Great New Book

I would like to give a shout out for Bernard Kress’s new book titled “Optical Architectures for Augmented-, Virtual-, and Mixed-Reality Headsets.” It is available in both paper and electronic form at for between $47 and $65 depending on the format and if you are an SPIE member. The book is 275 pages (fairly large type) and chock full of figures (see example below)

A close up of a device

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Bernard is a Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft working on Hololens 1 and 2. Overall, the book is an excellent compendium of almost every AR/MR/VR optical architecture announced to date, along with covering many key human factors issues. This is not a technical deep dive into optics but rather takes a high-level view that the average person can understand.

While Bernard works for Microsoft, I found the book to be very even-handed in its discussions of the various company products. This book is a must-have resource for anyone involved in the AR/VR/MR industry. Benard is a great evangelist for the AR industry and is a Conference Chair of AR/VR/MR conferences within Photonics West. This blog has cited his work several times in the past, much of which included in the book.

I should add that this blog is cited as a resource in the book’s acknowledgments. I receive absolutely no compensation for this recommendation or the link and even paid  for a digital copy of the book. I just think it is a great resource. I would recommend getting the electronic version as it is  a) searchable, b) instantly available, c) less expensive, d) more environmentally friendly.

Karl Guttag
Karl Guttag
Articles: 243


  1. Looking forward to hearing more about CES and Photonics West!
    Did you by any chance get to try the Creal optics? Would love to learn more about their tech. Cheers !

    • Thanks, yes I saw Creal. If you want to know how it works, I would suggest reading their patent application. It does a good job of explaining their concept (

      It works by having an array of pin-light sources (arrays of LEDs going through pin-holes or similar) that will selectively illuminate a DLP from various angles They put the various views of a light-field up sequentially and then illuminate them from the corresponding light source.

      The advantage of this technique over say Looking Glass which puts microlens over an array of source pixels, thus trading resolution for the light-field, is that it keeps the full resolution of the image. The obvious downside is that the DLP is not fast enough to support full-color-depth while at the same time supporting many light field images. So you don’t get a full-color image, at least with the prototype.

  2. Hi Karl!
    By any chance did you get to see the Lynx prototype employing freeform optics? What are your thoughts on the compact form factor provided by the freeform?

    • From what I saw at Photonics West AR/VR/MR Conference, Lynx from what I took away is not so much about the compact form factor, although they make a point about it being compact, but about being able to put an eye-tracking camera in the center of vision. They are working on a Pass-Through AR (camera-AR). Once you are doing pass-through-AR, it is hard to call it “compact.”

      It is interesting how the 4 “petals” of the optics are used to create a single image, but I am a bit concerned about the resultant image quality. I only got to look through some prototype optics at the show. This video shows a bit more about them:

      I was impressed as to how they thought up the concept and that it worked. Clearly they have some very smart people. What I am not sure is how well it will work out in practice and how good the image quality would be in the end.

    • I don’t study optics books. I found Bernard Kress’s book to be the most accessible to the average person while covering most of the AR optics.

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