New Study Reveals Ways to Take Eye Fatigue Out of Virtual Reality

New technologies sometimes bring with them new problems, and often, it’s hard to see the issues before widespread implementation. And so it is with the booming field of virtual reality. As the industry fine-tunes what appears to be a revolutionary consumer technology, some obstacles still need to be overcome. Well designed display measurement can help here, and a recent study tackled one of the most peculiar of virtual reality bugs: eye fatigue.

Virtual reality (VR) has been around for a deceptively long time; primitive versions of the technology can be traced back all the way to 1980s. One thing that has always held it back is the uncomfortable nature of using it. That can range wildly from bulky headsets (an issue that has been solved at least to some to degree) to eye fatigue and nausea.

A new study published out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may have uncovered a breakthrough in this department. Using an optical 3-D mapping display, the research team there thinks it has solved the issue.

Current VR doesn’t actually use 3-D images but presents the illusion of it by presenting two 2-D images at the same time. This works in tricking the viewer’s brain into “seeing” 3-D, but it also leads to a fatigued mind (as it tries to overcompensate for what is, in essence, two images simultaneously).

Dr. Liang Gao and his team had a novel solution for that: why not just create a 3-D image? By using optical mapping and a specially designed spatial multiplexing unit, Gao’s team created a layered device that allowed images to appear at different depths.

And one of the key concepts of the overall design, as well as an aspect that sets it apart from past iterations of this general concept, is the use of organic light emitting diodes (OLED). OLEDs offer exceptional levels of resolution, which gives VR some room to grow in two areas that it needs to, energy consumption and more compact screen displays.

For VR to be a player in the consumer industry in decades to come, it will need advances in technology to make it easier to enjoy. Solving the eye fatigue issue is one such area, and there will be others. Without a doubt, Dr. Gao and his team have taken a big step forward; along the rest of the way, display measurement innovations will always need to be applied to have consistent products. Check out our OL 770-DMS and Aries spectroradiometer and our Mantis imaging colorimeter to see more.

LED Lighting Assisting Students in Norway

The linked nature of light and sleep has long been known. Whether people fall on the nocturnal or diurnal side of the spectrum, light is the key part of the circadian rhythm of sleep. As humans, we may not have known just how the process of sleep and light works, but we are learning more. As we do, we are inventing ingenious ways to promote good sleep through innovative lighting techniques. LEDs are at the forefront of this research, and LED calibration is needed for precision.

It turns out that teenagers may have the most complex relationship with light and sleep. Sleep patterns change during the teenage years, but the requirements of life and the world do not. Most teenagers will slip into natural patterns of being up later and sleeping longer in the morning, or, put in light-based terms, more sleep with more light.

This change in sleep patterns can lead to a variety of problems, from social attention to mood issues. This is something anyone with a teenager in the family can attest to. At the Holla Comprehensive School in Norway, they decided to do something about the issue. By installing LED lights that were controllable and calibrated for certain lux levels, the school seeks to have settings throughout the day that naturally promote health.

The idea is revolutionary in both depth and concept. Only lately have we begun producing LEDs that can so easily and precisely be controlled, and only recently, it seems, have we begun to take the effect of light so seriously. A study by the Norwegian Competence Center for Sleep Disorders at Haukeland University Hospital discovered that 8.4% of students reported difficulty falling asleep before even 2 A.M.

Studies that link intense, white LED light to increased focus and warm red LED light to relaxation have taken serious hold across the world. This ranges from Japanese subway stations (where LED light luminance is set to calm passengers) to road signals using complex LED patterns. Now, it appears progressive schools are using innovative LED techniques as well.

And why shouldn’t we use light research to its fullest potential? Ignoring the complexity and effect of light on our minds serves no purpose. But to fully unlock the secrets of the light spectrum, careful LED calibration will always have to be met. Gooch & Housego can help there; contact our offices at 407-422-3171 for information on our products and services.

Multispectral Imaging Leads to the Finding of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions

Innovations and technological progress have begun to shed light on the history of the ancient world. Careful Camera calibration, and creative imaging techniques, can allow us to see artifacts from a new angle. Perhaps in few cases, that has become crystal clear, considering a recent multispectral imaging technique done on a nearly 2,600-year-old piece of pottery at The Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.

The simple shard of pottery was found in 1965 in the former castle of Arad. On the front side, archaeologists could make out a clear inscription that included a blessing by Yahweh, as well as other notes from the era (historians and scholars have been studying the exact meaning of the transcription for decades).

The back portion of this ancient shard was completely blank. That is, until the progress of 21st century light imaging techniques revealed language hidden in the darkness.

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Tel Aviv have been working with this piece of pottery for years.  By using a sensitive multispectral imaging technique, they were surprised to find lines of script written secretly into the backside of the clay. Not only that, but the precise nature of the imagery allowed the teams to make out the writing on the front of the pot a bit better as well. The words revealed are a millennia old, some of the oldest human writing we have, and date back to 600 B.C.E. Every single letter is indeed a treasure, and window to a past world.

What did the hidden inscription say? “The newly revealed inscription features an administrative text, like most of the Arad inscriptions,” said Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of TAU. Added scholar Arie Shaus: “The new inscription begins with a request for wine.”

The fortress of Arad was in fact a far flung military outpost that was destroyed around 586 B.C.E, just after the clay shard was written. Logistics were always critical, considering the pottery had requests for wine, assistance, flour, and oil. They seem to be specifically addressed to Elyashiv, known to scholars as the quartermaster of the fortress.

Scholars and scientists at TAU stressed the importance of not just the wording uncovered on this pottery, but of the potential for imaging techniques to be used on huge volumes of antiquities. Housed in the world’s universities and museums, we may very well have thousands of stories from our ancient history, but have only recently been in command of technology that can allow us to read them. This discovery in Tel Aviv was proof of words of millennia in the past, coming alive today, with the help of Camera calibration. If you want to know more about LED Calibration, check out our news section or contact us today.

From Start to Finish Photopatterning Builds OLEDS

As LED light technology has evolved, so have the uses and needs that increasingly rely on them (often without even knowing it). One direction all of this LED calibration and experimentation has gone, is toward OLEDS, or organic LED lighting. OLEDs have fascinated scientists because of their potential ability to replace LCD screens completely. Simply by inserting a layer of organic material between two electrodes, OLED lights came to fruition, and built off the legacy of original LED technology.

Those organic layers have multiplied over the years, creating ever more complex displays of OLEDS. But with each step-forward, there has been increasing technical issues. These issues are due to the fabrication of OLEDs, which has always been limited by the ability to place polymers correctly. This issue, in turn, has limited the quality, light-spectrum use, and cost effectiveness of the entire class of OLEDs.

This was until researchers at the University of California, in Santa Barbara, in conjunction with scientists at Dow Chemical, came upon a workable solution. Using emissive polymer brushes with micron feature resolution, they can graft the units in order to photopattern OLEDS proficiently. This is done via a technique called photocatalysis, and the surface of the substance being targeted for the polymers must be ultra-precise in order to have positive results. This is, in essence, LED calibration at its absolute finest.

The teams focused on iridium centers to get the maximum positioning for polymer growth. And by controlling the polymer growth with an extreme level of detail, they synthesized arrays that could produce wide-spectrum color emissions due to polymer brush position, growth, and thickness.

With these achievements, the researchers from both the public and private sector that participated in this work think that they are building toward a future where OLEDS can be manufactured on a more mass scale. As we stand now, the general concept behind OLED technology is fairly well known, but the broad applications are less clear as production remains questionable. Much of this is due to the complexity of placing and growing intricate polymers in an organic setting.

While OLEDs are still in the distance in terms of widespread technical capabilities to LED, there are signs, such as the above study, that the gap may be closing. LED calibrations are made more accurate and easy with tools such as those developed by the light measurements experts at G&H Instruments.

A Low-Cost White Light that Imitates Sunlight Emerges

New variations in light technology are emerging consistently as the focus on energy preservation and maximum illumination move to the forefront of our digital world. Even as these varied techniques materialize, there will always be a requirement for new technology to be evaluated against high photometric standards. LEDs have evolved over decades to become more precise with cost, quality, and capability. Although, there could always be challenges on the horizon of light production.

One original approach appeared recently out of the University of Turku in Finland, as researchers have discovered the use of a material to make a wide-spectrum natural white light. Using a “natural hackmanite material,” the team at the Inorganic Materials Chemistry Group, was able to create an illumination that is remarkably similar in spectrum quality to sunlight.

The hackmanite material is different in chemical composition from lanthanides, which is what we currently use in nearly all LEDs. Lanthanides have two specific things working against them. The first is that they can be generally expensive when compared to the radically inexpensive hackmanite substance, and secondly, they do not create broad spectrum light capabilities at the same level.

Another massive benefit of using hackmanite is the afterglow effect that is a near replicate of the sun. This can be difficult to produce in LEDs, but researchers in Finland found that the luminance levels were tremendous when using the new material. As Mika Lastusaari, one of the head researchers from the University of Turku put it: “Our hackmanite material can produce observable white persistent luminescence for seven hours in the dark. With a spectrometer, the luminescence can be detected for more than 100 hours.”

This light technology has the potential to have an array of applications, as afterglow illuminations are used in many types of signs, particularly those for emergencies. Lastusaari noted that having the ability to stay lit through long-term power outages was a stand-out byproduct of this material’s use in lighting.
How hackmanite is used in lighting fixtures of the future, and whether it will be integrated with existing LED techniques, depends entirely on the testing done with highly accurate photometric standards. But the future does seem to be open, and as materials show new avenues for light production, we can expect innovative lighting solutions from the scientific community.

New Development in Display Resolution May Move to Private Sector

Screens are everywhere. From diners to taxis, work to school, they are in our pockets and in every room in our homes. In the 21st century, they are the ubiquitous piece of our daily environment, vital for the digital world around us, and the very portals of the information we consume. The quest to make them stronger, clearer, more intense and better with energy, is constant. Photometric standards are an important piece in the scientist’s toolbox in that continuous march toward the perfect screen.

Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have made some interesting findings along these lines. Using electric voltage, they have found a way to tune the pixels in screens, in order to create better resolution. The work, which began with a paper published in the journal “Nature Communications” in 2015, could completely alter the entire screen industry if replicated on a large scale.

A simple summary of current screen technology goes like this: screen pixels hold three or four sub-pixels colored green, red, blue, and sometimes, yellow (this is very similar to what was embedded in old tube boxes, for those that can remember). These colors are fixed, which makes the resolution and clarity of screens essentially static.

With a stroke of genius from the UCF researchers, a new technique allows for those sub-pixel colors to change in real-time with a targeted electric charge. This means that these pixels can be tuned. This creates screens that are extremely versatile with the color spectrum they are able to emit, and opens a world of potential innovation. It also makes the static sub-pixels a relic.

UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center is behind this work, with the guiding minds of assistant professor Debashis Chanda and physics doctoral student, Daniel Franklin.

To make this all possible, the pair created an embossed nanostructure surface with an overlay of reflective aluminum. Most of the work on this structure was completed in 2015, but the recent breakthrough came from realizing that by altering the surface roughness of the nanostructure, they could modify the full pixel range without having to create separate substructures for each individual color change.

Needless to say, this all took very accurate photometric standards. It is this exact kind of innovative work that we at Gooch & Housego look for and commend. For more information on our labs and instruments, contact us anytime at 407-422-3171.

Spectroscopy Measuring Continues to Enhance Food Production

We want and need our food to be as sustainable and healthy as possible. That idea has been around for a long time, but what is becoming more accessible are the tools and ideas with which to measure food production. Amazingly, spectroscopy has a role to play here, and for the best results, one needs a spectroradiometer or spectrometer of fine caliber.

This finding comes based on research by the University of Basque Country and its Department of Analytical Chemistry. Scientists there used a simple but elegant technique to measure the biological composition of fruit and vegetables down to the molecular level. And they did so using a relatively simple portable Raman spectrometer, a very similar instrument to the more complex spectroradiometer.

The use of laboratory-level equipment in the kitchen may seem over the top, but it is, in fact, non-invasive and completely harmless to the food you eat according to this study. Technology also provides useful data. Josu Trebolazabala was a lead researcher in the study, and he put the possible gains to be had deploying this technology thusly: “Our idea was to come up with a tool that could help producers find out when their tomatoes have reached their optimum ripeness point. This is achieved without destroying the fruit.”

By using a spectrometer, the team was able to tell the molecular composition of tomatoes and understand its phases of ripening to an extremely precise level. Taken on a larger scale, this type of research could help growers, distributors, and consumers of vegetables better coordinate the worldwide process of food consumption.

As we move into the 21st century, sustainability will continue to be a key in how we use our natural resources. Light-based calibration processes, such as those involving spectroradiometers, may play a surprising role in helping with precision crop growth. But to do so, experts in the field of molecular light measurement will need to continue to make progress for the ease and accuracy of readings. At Gooch and Housego, we can contribute in a myriad of ways with instruments that range from laboratory level complexity to those that can run on a simple Windows-based laptop. For more information on what we can do (and to find out more about the world-class spectroradiometers in our inventory), contact us anytime at 407-422-3171.

Hollow Fiber Optic Antenna Used to Measure Respiratory Rate

It feels more and more as if our technology can be a key asset in the pursuit of better health and wellness. This can go far beyond the sophisticated tools of hospitals and laboratories. Precision light measurement and fiber optics have a role to play here. As shown in recent research by Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, the very things we wear may be used as tools for measuring our vitals.

Ingeniously outfitting a t-shirt with sensors, the team was able to create a device that monitors a wearer’s breath rate in true real-time. Completely non-invasive, the fiber-optic based device is a small antenna attached to the shirt at chest level that accurately reads a person’s breathing. Although it may be simple for the person being monitored, it is not a simple piece of technology; this hollow fiber optic was coated with a type of silver and polymer that allows it to accurately read the volume of air in the lungs as well as the contraction of the thorax.
The need for hyper-precision is clear, as the shirt is meant to be worn by those with asthma, sleep apnea, and pulmonary obstructive diseases. All are types of conditions that are not easily monitored even by the patient themselves. Use of the cutting-edge shirt for those with sleep apnea has obvious possible benefits, as the monitoring of breathing levels can be kept exact throughout the night.

The design concept is meant to take data from various points and collectively deliver it to a smartphone or tablet. The researchers at the optic center at the Université Laval had not even begun to make inroads on the ways in which an app could be designed and developed; their primary concern was the proper function of the fiber optic monitor. The success in this department looks promising; they reported being able to send the shirt through a full wash over 20 times with the unit still working as needed.
Precision light measurement is at the heart of much photonic-based technical innovation, and the smart shirt is no different. The fiber optic coating must be precise and the materials must be durable for readings to reach a level of use. Gooch & Housego is a field leader in the testing of such standards. For more information on our products and services, contact us anytime at 407-422-3171. Keep up to date on the latest photonics news by following our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

3D Holography May be Coming to Smartphones in the Near Future

LED technologies and smartphones are being pushed to their furthest and most useful edges together. It seems almost daily we are seeing stories about progressive tech using the finest materials to break new ground on what LEDs can do; from camera phones as thin as a paper to LEDs growing food in skyscrapers. 3-D holograms produced on smartphones are the latest in ground-breaking display technology.

Researchers from across the world worked to make this a possibility, uniting from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). What they have developed is the thinnest nanometric hologram on record, which is a concept that really only became possible in the last few years due to technical challenges.

As was pointed out by the teams, holograms, in a normal sense, have been around for some time, but the tools needed to modulate the light waves were cumbersome. This limited the places in which hologram technology could be placed, and, of course, completely ruled out something as thin as a smartphone. But the joint group figured out how to create 60 nm holograms from a type of sophisticated topological insulator material. This allows, in theory, holographic images to jump from the thin flatness of a modern smartphone.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications, and its potential impact is huge. Hologram technology, if easily created, can have uses in everything from energy to medicine to communication.

Professor Min Gu (of RMIT) led the study, and one of the biggest points he made was how critical it was to make a hologram technology that could be replicated. He said, “Our nano-hologram is also fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture.”

The first time most people saw hand-held holographic technology was in 1977: Star Wars literally beamed the concept with the image of Princess Leia’s communication. That very idea, with the uncovering of Professor Gu’s research, seems startlingly close to reality. In no place may nano-hologram technology be more applicable (or coveted) than in consumer electronics. The possibilities there are boundless.

This hologram display technology has great potential to become even more refined. The researchers involved in this study believe they can actually continue to shrink the footprint of hologram creation devices by at least 10 times. The future for holograms is growing, and there is no limit in sight.

Could LEDs Lead to the End of Pesticides?

Pesticides work well, but as a one-size-fits-all method, they are the embodiment of pre-21st-century technology when applied to the natural world. Pesticides can be dangerous for animals and people, which they were never intended for, as they are truly inexact in targeting. Pesticides are loathed for a reason, but they are also used for one: crops will be damaged and destroyed without proper pest and disease management. But, could some bold developments in LED testing make the use of pesticides obsolete?

Jaimin Patel, a plant pathologist working at the Lighting Research Center of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, thinks so. As LEDs have become commonly applied to farming techniques to improve growth, taste, and space requirements, there may be yet another way they can help us with our crops: the stop of plant disease and degradation.
Patel is studying the effects of particular wavelengths of LEDs on plants. In particular, he is researching which pathogens crumble in which light and how this knowledge can be used on a more wide scale. For example, his team recently figured out how to attack certain mildew pathogens that are sensitive to light and harmful to plants. That team has worked with everything from cucumbers to strawberries and sees similarities in the way light affects all.

When speaking with Lux magazine, the researcher made a specific example of how basil can be improved:

“I want to make sure that my research controls diseases as well as increases some of the crops marketability parameters, for example in the case of basil,” he said. “LED light could be used to increase the weight of basil leaves, meaning that if the plants are sold by weight, then there is going to be financial advantage for the grower.”

This type of sustainable growing is needed in a world where land is at a premium and crops are vital. In the past, although the LED technology was possible, the cost of effectively using it on a wide scale was insurmountable. This may no longer be an issue.

If everything from pathogens to plant flavors can be transformed by LED testing, than perhaps so can their vulnerabilities to pests. This is part of the hope in those who see a future where pesticides are no longer needed and well-calibrated LED lights are set with an eye towards horticulture. A future of a cleaner environment is something we can all be excited about.