Kopin announces new all-plastic Pancake optics for use in XR headsets

In Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality News

June 17, 2021 – Kopin Corporation, a developer and provider of high-resolution microdisplays and display subassemblies for defense, enterprise, consumer and medical products, has recently announced that it has succeeded in developing all-plastic Pancake optics with what it states is “breakthrough performance” for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) applications (collectively XR).

Kopin has applied for three patents on the design, manufacturing processes and system utilization of all plastic Pancake optics, and expects additional filings to follow.

According to the company, Pancake optics, compared to other optics designs, can provide a superior magnified image quality in a much thinner form factor, especially for products with field of views (FoV) ranging from 50-100 degrees. Kopin’s new all-plastic Pancake optics with all aspherical lenses (compared to previous Pancake optics using spherical glass lens) help to reduce weight and thickness while improving image quality – all at a lower cost.

Pancake optics work by reflecting light back and forth within the optical system. However, without getting too technical, plastic materials usually have large birefringence (double refraction of light). Kopin states that its all-plastic two-element Pancake optics have virtually no birefringence, and as a result, offers a Pancake optics system with better image quality, smaller size, lighter weight and lower cost than anything previously available.

The company’s first all-plastic Pancake optics, named P95, is optimized for Kopin’s 1.3″ 2.6K x 2.6K organic light emitting diode (OLED) microdisplay (2560 x 2560 resolution) and provides a 95° FoV. At 16mm thickness and 15g per lens set, the new Pancake optics are thinner and lighter than the optics used in today’s VR headsets. Kopin added that when combined with its 2.6K x 2.6K high-brightness OLED microdisplay, the P95 pancake optics provide a virtual image equivalent to a 250-inch diagonal display viewed at 10-foot distance with solid image performance for VR applications.

“This major breakthrough represents a foundational milestone for the emerging VR markets. Bulky, heavy headsets have been a major barrier to faster consumer adoption for many years. No more,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, CEO and founder of Kopin Corporation. “After thorough review of the available optics designs, we believe all-plastic Pancake optics are the best for VR applications that require a very large field of view, excellent image performance, and a super compact size. 

The company added that it believes its new Pancake optics will also be suitable for AR and MR applications, and could help to put super lightweight (< 100 g), compact high performance headset products closer within reach. Kopin stated that it plans to offer its new optics as either a standalone component or in a module with its OLED microdisplays. 

For more information on Kopin and its display and optical technologies, visit the company’s website.

Image credit: Kopin

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.