Rapid innovation in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) products will take place only with the right components that help bring a more immersive experience, providing the processing and imaging capabilities required, while reducing power consumption. Many of these devices are also housed in smaller packaging or offer high integration for these space-constrained products. Here are 10 components that are designed with VR/AR applications in mind.
1. Vishay Intertechnology VCNL36687S proximity sensor
Vishay introduced a fully integrated proximity sensor that combines a high-power vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL), a photodiode, a signal processing IC, and a 12-bit ADC in a single package. The VCNL36687S is designed for smartphones, tablets, VR/AR headsets, and other battery-operated devices.
The VCNL36687S offers a range of up to 20 cm (7.9 inches), and the VCSEL’s profile of ±3° makes it suitable for applications that require narrow-angle detection while minimizing optical system design concerns. In terms of size, the VCNL36687S is housed in a miniature, surface-mount 3.05×2-mm leadless package (LLP) with a 1-mm profile, making it suited for space-constrained applications.
Vishay also improved the power consumption compared to previous-generation devices. As an example, the VCNL36687S can detect a Kodak Gray Card at a distance of 20 cm with a 20-mA pulse current, compared to 200 mA of current for previous VCNL series devices.
The VCNL36687S allows access to the proximity signal through a standard I 2 C bus serial digital interface. The device’s programmable interrupt function provides wake-up functionality for the microcontroller when a proximity change occurs. This reduces processing overhead by eliminating the need for continuous polling, said Vishay.
2. TDK/Chirp Microsystems SonicTrack 6-DoF ultrasonic controller
TDK Corp. is touting the Chirp SonicTrack as an inside-out six-degree-of-freedom (6-DoF) ultrasonic tracking solution for all-in-one VR. The Chirp SonicTrack from Chirp Microsystems combines ultrasonic and inertial sensor data to provide 6-DoF position and orientation tracking of a handheld controller with sub-millimeter precision over a field of view (FoV) of over 240 degrees. TDK said that the first VR system to use the SonicTrack tracking solution is a developer kit for HTC’s Vive Focus all-in-one VR system.
Chirp SonicTrack is touted as the only inside-out tracking solution, which is powered by Chirp’s CH-101 ultra-low-power ultrasonic transceiver, based on true 3D position information. The position-tracking system uses sonar by transmitting ultrasonic pulses between CH-101 sensors inside the VR system’s HMD and the handheld controllers, providing 3D position information of the controllers relative to the HMD, explained TDK. Ultrasonic tracking also translates into lower power, a wide field of view, and better optimization for mobile processors used in all-in-one VR/AR/XR systems.
Camera-based solutions have only 2D image data, which requires computation-intensive image processing from multiple cameras to estimate 3D position information, said TDK.
VR system providers can design their own 6-DoF controllers thanks to a Chirp hardware reference design and complete software stack, including a sensor fusion software library that is ready to use on Qualcomm Snapdragon and other mobile processors.
3. Synaptics Inc. R63455 display driver IC
Synaptics designed the ClearView R63455 display driver IC (DDIC) specifically for VR HMDs. It’s touted as the first display driver to offer dual-display 2K resolution combined with unique foveal transport support. The company also offers the VXR7200 VR Bridge solution that provides high-speed DisplayPort connectivity supporting full VESA DP1.4 bandwidth over tethered USB Type-C cables.
The R63455 display driver is optimized for 2,160×2,400 resolution @ 90 Hz, while the VXR7200 supports >2K resolution or faster refresh rates without any image loss thanks to the cabling. Together, Synaptics believes that these two solutions will deliver high-performance visual support for augmented-, mixed-, and virtual-reality HMDs in applications such as gaming, movies, commercial, and medical.
Key features include:
- R63455 VR DDIC optimized for 2,160×2,400 resolution @ 90 Hz
- 1,000 ppi, 2K per-eye image quality
- Foveal transport provides crystal-clear visual
- VXR7200 VR Bridge supports full DP1.4 bandwidth using AMD/Nvidia GPUs over USB-C
- Support panels >2K resolution or faster refresh rates without image loss due to cabling
4. Dialog Semiconductor SmartBond DA1469x Bluetooth Low Energy SoCs
Building on its family of SmartBond products, Dialog’s new family of SmartBond DA1469x Bluetooth Low Energy SoCs adds greater processing power, resources, range, and battery life for IoT-connected consumer applications. The SoCs feature up to 144 DMIPS, 512 Kbytes of RAM, memory protection, a floating-point unit, a dedicated crypto engine to enable end-to-end security, and expandable memories.
The DA1469x product family is touted as the company’s most advanced range of multi-core microcontroller units (MCUs) for wireless connectivity and the first in production to have a dedicated application processor based on the Arm Cortex-M33 processor, which offers greater processing applications such as high-end fitness trackers, advanced smart home devices, and VR game controllers.
In addition, the new integrated radio offers double the range, and an Arm Cortex-M0+-based software-programmable packet engine implements protocols and provides full flexibility for wireless communication. Complementing the M33 and MO+ protocol engine is a sensor node controller (SNC) based on a programmable micro-DSP that runs autonomously and independently processes data from the sensors connected to its digital and analog interfaces, said Dialog. This wakes the application processor only when needed. In addition, the devices offer a power management unit (PMU) that controls the different processing cores and activates them as needed for further power savings.
5. Toshiba Memory Europe UFS Ver. 3.0 embedded flash memory
Toshiba Memory Europe GmbH (TME) is sampling the 128-GB version of the industry’s first Universal Flash Storage (UFS) Ver. 3.0 embedded flash memory devices. Thanks to its serial interface, UFS supports full duplexing, which enables both concurrent reading and writing between the host processor and UFS device.
The new memory devices integrate the company’s 96-layer BiCS FLASH 3D flash memory and is available in three capacities — 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB — along with a controller in a JEDEC-standard 11.5×13-mm package. All three devices are compliant with JEDEC UFS Ver. 3.0, including HS-GEAR4, which has a theoretical interface speed of up to 11.6 Gbits/s per lane (× 2 lanes = 23.2 Gbps), said TME, while also supporting features that keep power consumption in check. The controller performs error correction, wear leveling, logical-to-physical address translation, and bad-block management to ease system development.
The devices’ high-speed read/write performance and low power consumption make them well-suited for VR/AR systems, mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets. Sequential read and write performances of the 512-GB device, for example, are improved by approximately 70% and 80%, respectively, over previous-generation 256-GB Toshiba devices.