September 12, 2018

How optical product design is driving innovation in the video game industry

How optical product design is driving innovation in the video game industry

Video games have come a long way since Physicist William Higinbotham created what is considered to be the first game: a table tennis precursor to Pong. And much of this advancement has to do with advancements in optical products. Optical product design is helping to drive the $108 billion industry forward by enabling the creation of cutting-edge technologies that keep gamers engaged. Here are three examples:

1. Virtual gaming technology
Virtual and augmented reality push video gaming into another realm, enabling players to enter a 360-degree world, or overlay virtual experiences on top of the real world, and experience games like never before. Key to this experience are optical products, from headsets to cameras to sensors. VR/AR headsets are becoming thinner and lighter thanks to advancements in aspheric and freeform optical surface design—and industry buzz about light field displays that project imagery onto the eyes and integrate with haptics are on the horizon. Motion-control sensors enable gamers to interact with the virtual world in a tangible way. And advancements in cell phone camera technology have helped enable the rise in popularity of AR games for Android and iOS like Pokemon Go, Ingress, Parallel Mafia, and Temple Treasure Hunt.

2. Keyboards with “optomechanical” keys
Video game hardware manufacturer Razer recently launched what it calls an “optomechanical switch” for its desktop keyboards. In addition to giving gamers the “clicky” feel of a mechanical keystroke, the keyboard incorporates “digital optical actuation of the keys, which is driven by a beam of light hitting a receiver every time you hit a key,” as reported by Techradar. This innovative technology could help make gaming keyboards even more responsive to a gamer’s keystrokes, enhancing the overall gameplay experience.

3. 4K displays
Video game manufacturers are now focused on creating content worthy of what’s touted to be the next standard in image resolution size: the 4K display. These advanced displays double the dimensions of an HD display, and enable gamers to experience the gaming environment in truly fine detail. Nearly all flat-panel displays on the market use LCD panels illuminated by LEDs. (Learn how to model LEDs and other complex sources here.)

To quote the popular novel, Ready Player One, “For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things.” We look forward to seeing what’s next for the video game industry and how optical product design will continue to help propel it forward.


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