Skip to content Skip to navigation

Focal surface displays - Douglas Lanman

Scien Logo
October 11, 2017 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Packard 101

Focal surface displays

Douglas Lanman, PhD

Oculus Research 


 Conventional binocular head-mounted displays (HMDs) vary the stimulus to vergence with the information in the picture, while the stimulus to accommodation remains fixed at the apparent distance of the display, as created by the viewing optics. Sustained vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC) has been associated with visual discomfort, motivating numerous proposals for delivering near-correct accommodation cues. We introduce focal surface displays to meet this challenge, augmenting conventional HMDs with a phase-only spatial light modulator (SLM) placed between the display screen and viewing optics. This SLM acts as a dynamic freeform lens, shaping synthesized focal surfaces to conform to the virtual scene geometry. We introduce a framework to decompose target focal stacks and depth maps into one or more pairs of piecewise smooth focal surfaces and underlying display images. We build on recent developments in "optimized blending" to implement a multifocal display that allows the accurate depiction of occluding, semi-transparent, and reflective objects. Practical benefits over prior accommodation-supporting HMDs are demonstrated using a binocular focal surface display employing a liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) phase SLM and an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display.

More Information:


Douglas Lanman is the Director of Computational Imaging at Oculus Research, where he leads investigations into advanced display and imaging technologies. His prior research has focused on head-mounted displays, glasses-free 3D displays, light field cameras, and active illumination for 3D reconstruction and interaction. He received a B.S. in Applied Physics with Honors from Caltech in 2002 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Brown University in 2006 and 2010, respectively. He was a Senior Research Scientist at NVIDIA Research from 2012 to 2014, a Postdoctoral Associate at the MIT Media Lab from 2010 to 2012, and an Assistant Research Staff Member at MIT Lincoln Laboratory from 2002 to 2005.

Event Sponsor: 
Stanford Center for Image System Engineering
Contact Email: 
Joyce Eileen Farrell <>