Stereoscopic head-mounted displays (HMD’s) provide an effective capability to create dynamic virtual environments. For a user of such environments, virtual objects would be displayed ideally at the appropriate distances, and natural concordant accommodation and convergence would be provided. Under such image display conditions, the user perceives these objects as if they were objects in a real environment. Current HMD technology requires convergent eye movements. However, it is currently limited by fixed visual accommodation, which is inconsistent with real-world vision. A prototype multiplanar volumetric projection display based on a stack of laminated planes was built for medical visualization as discussed in a paper presented at a 1999 Advanced Research Projects Agency workshop (Sullivan, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., 1999). We show how such technology can be engineered to create a set of virtual planes appropriately configured in visual space to suppress conflicts of convergence and accommodation in HMD’s. Although some scanning mechanism could be employed to create a set of desirable planes from a two-dimensional conventional display, multiplanar technology accomplishes such function with no moving parts. Based on optical principles and human vision, we present a comprehensive investigation of the engineering specification of multiplanar technology for integration in HMD’s. Using selected human visual acuity and stereoacuity criteria, we show that the display requires at most 27 equally spaced planes, which is within the capability of current research and development display devices, located within a maximal 26-mm-wide stack. We further show that the necessary in-plane resolution is of the order of 5 µm.
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