August 01, 2014, 10:00 AM — Nvidia researchers have published a research paper discussing a way to create very high resolution images by stacking two lower resolution LCDs with offset pixel layers. Thanks to Nvidia's own secret sauce, it's able to create a look that is much higher resolution than the displays are capable of showing.
What Nvidia does is layer two LCD panels with a very slight difference in positioning, so essentially one panel fills in the gaps of the other. Or, as their white paper puts it, "layered spatial light modulators (SLMs), subject to fixed lateral displacements and refreshed at staggered intervals, can synthesize images with greater spatiotemporal resolution than that afforded by any single SLM used in their construction."
Nvidia says that these cascaded displays are the first use of multi-layer displays to increase apparent temporal resolution. It validated the concepts using dual-layer LCD and a dual-modulation liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) projector. Nvidia’s researchers used the dual layer LCDs in a head mounted display (a.k.a. goggles, like Oculus Rift) and with a projector.
What this allows is creating an Oculus Rift-like head-mounted display but without needing a super high res panel. The real heavy lifting for Oculus Rift has been the high-res display. Nvidia is replicating it with standard LCD panels. Almost all of Nvidia's work is in software, not the hardware.
As for LCoS displays, Nvidia believes super-resolution displays could be a cheaper and viable alternative to achieving 8K ultra high definition cinematic projection standards.
Nvidia notes that we're reaching 4k desktop displays and smartphones now have pixel density greater than the human eye can resolve. However, the cascaded displays present a new approach to meet other requirements, such as 8K UHD and 3D displays that don't require glasses.
Its prototypes were able to quadruple the apparent spatial resolution and double the effective refresh rate. Extensions to more than two layers afford even greater increases, but also have extra engineering challenges.
"Most significantly, we have developed the real-time factorization algorithms necessary to drive cascaded displays—offering practical means to accelerate the development of emerging display applications, supported by a flexible trade-off between spatial resolution, refresh rate, and apparent image brightness," they concluded.