LEEP Videowrap Overview

"As Wide as the Eye Can See"

As computer memory has become a million times cheaper, so has interconnect bandwidth for entertainment and communication become a million times wider. The main popular consequence will be a technology that provides full 360° visual immersion in simulated or remote environments. That technology is Videowrap. Eric Howlett has designed a completely new display interface method that entirely eliminates all visual boundaries. LEEP Videowrap is a head-mounted video viewing and image acquisition system that provides a field of view limited, in principle, only by the very bone structure of the user's skull.

Videowrap renders obsolete the common belief that the industry-standard LEEP optics of the 1990s provided the absolute widest-physically-possible visual field for head-mounted VR displays. While proud of the original LEEP optics, we were not satisfied with the limitations of the 140 visual field. Because it allows the user to see everything, Videowrap will enrich and transform entertainment, social interaction, travel, education and communication. In the Third Millennium, humanity will step out of the age of screens with pictures and enter the age of total immersion.

Wrap the World Around The User

Video monitors are so basic to the daily work of so many of us, and they connect us to such magnificent conceptual worlds, that their limitations as mediators of interactive experience are hard to appreciate. The key word here is "experience". No matter how intellectually stimulating the contents of the display may be, we are still regarding a flat surface — like the page of a book — or at best like a small window we are looking through. Virtual reality begins when we lay aside the book — or step through the window — and start to experience the computer-generated world from the inside.

Modern Head Mounted Displays suffer from many of the same limitations of standard monitors. They display two small stereo images with a large space between them. The images for each eye are bounded by black borders at the top, at the bottom, and on each side. So even though they attach the book to our faces, we're still stuck with a display that offers nothing more than that of a three-dimensional book. By contrast, Videowrap display technology wraps the three-dimensional world entirely around the userís face.

With Videowrap's immersive VR, the desktop monitor or narrow angle HMD is replaced by a very wide angle stereoscopic display that affords the user the sensation of looking around and moving within another place. The view is truly stereoscopic, or truly three-dimensional, and very wide, or "wrap-around" panoramic. From the moment the he puts on a Videowrap-based HMD, the user is immersed in the virtual world. Videowrap eliminates the so-called stereo window. In the future, there will be no edge to the virtual human visual field. In the future, we will have Videowrap.

Keeping the Promise of Virtual Reality

In two important respects, available VR systems are limiting the potential of VR.

  • The resolution is inadequate for all but the most forgiving applications. The resolution has been limited by LCDs operating at high magnification.
  • Formatting of the space in computer-generated VR has usually been incorrect, giving distorted peripheral fields and instability of the virtual world.

The formatting problem is conceptually more difficult. The world does not lie down easily on a page. Ever since it was discovered that the world was a globe, map makers have struggled with this fact, and geography pupils have been subjected to Mercator projections and orange peels. Cyberspace adventurers have a similar problem. Fortunately though, they want to see their synthetic worlds from the inside out. From the inside out, a world can be displayed without any distortion. We call this undistorted rendering of a virtual world an orthospace.

Despite the fact that it can be done, it has not been done routinely. In the past, correct rendering slowed down graphics engines that were already too slow, and while we no longer face this particular problem, the importance of orthospace is not generally recognized. To realize the full visual benefits of VR, the world must be mapped in real time in such a way as to provide a wide field of view without great loss of resolution. With Videowrap, we have discovered a way to provide the full human field of view.

Immersive Artificial Orthospace

The projection of a 3D scene can only be correct when viewed from a specific location. A flat surface can therefore never simultaneously represent orthospace to both of your eyes. Only if one eye is closed and the other is positioned at the exact right spot, is it possible to achieve orthospace through viewing a projection. Only then can a flat surface such as a computer monitor act as a true window to an otherworld.

Most of the time, your computer monitor is not a true window, but that's okay. Your brain can reconcile any distortion by interpreting the flat surface with an image on it as a flat surface with an image on it. Thus, orthospace is restored. It might not be the orthospace you wanted, but this fallback allows you to view distorted paintings, photographs, and movies without getting sick.

Things are different with stereoscopic display. As before, representing orthospace requires that each eye's image is orthoscopic. But a non-orthoscopic otherworld will cause your two eyes to see distinct distortions that are incapable of being interpreted into a fallback orthospace. This means that any level of non-orthoscopy in the image can be unsettling.

For real-life examples of non-orthoscopy, try viewing an object through a pane of dimpled glass or viewing your reflection through a funhouse mirror. The mindís difficulty in merging the two separate images is a disconcerting effect that is exacerbated when the non-orthoscopic FOV widens and/or the stereo overlap region increases.

Videowrap allows us to render a three-dimensional virtual world in true orthospace. When using Videowrap, your visual interface to the virtual world behaves the same as your visual interface to the real world. You can even stick your head out the window. Don't try that with your monitor!