The new light-field stereoscope technology – developed by Wetzstein along with researchers Fu-Chung Huang and Kevin Chen – moves beyond current "flat" VR that essentially is a 2D screen in front of your eyes. The new headset design creates a sort of hologram for each eye to make the experience more natural. A light field creates multiple, slightly different perspectives over different parts of the same pupil. The result: you can freely move your focus and experience depth in the virtual scene, just as in real life.
"If you have a five-hour (robotic) surgery, you really want to try to minimize the eye strain that you put on the surgeon and create as natural and comfortable a viewing experience as possible," Wetzstein said.
"Virtual reality gives us a new way of communicating among people, of telling stories, of experiencing all kinds of things remotely or closely," Wetzstein said. "It's going to change communication between people on a fundamental level."
Wetzstein's computational imaging work is going beyond the lab and into the classroom. In the fall, he will team with Tanja Aitamurto, deputy director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford, to teach an interdisciplinary course at Stanford's d.school focused on the social impacts of virtual reality. The class, EE392D, Designing Civic Technologies with Virtual Reality, will be open to all Stanford students from any major. Wetzstein is also developing a class focused on virtual reality technology for the spring quarter.
Professor Wetzstein's research lab, Stanford Computational Imaging Group
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