New Tech Tuesdays: Virtual and Augmented Reality Is Helping to Ex
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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Virtual and Augmented Reality Is Helping to Expand Our Horizons Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesday

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Going forward, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will take us places in the realm of gaming, marketing, e-commerce, education, etc. With this technology, we'll be visualizing places and things that might have been otherwise unavailable—or even real.

VR and AR are immersive experiences that bring together a virtual world and the real one with enhanced 3-dimensional visuals. Their definitions nearly align, but they do have differences.

VR is used in training (military, manufacturing, and retail), marketing and sales presentations, and design and development of other technology and products, such as automobiles, surgical techniques and vaccines. VR is a completely digital experience viewed inside a closed visual environment, although it could include physical elements from the real world, such as movement, temperature, and sound. VR can create any environment imaginable with control over the elements contained within. Users can compete in games or enjoy escapism experiences in foreign lands.

AR is more accessible. Anyone with a smartphone can get access to an application that can overlay computer-generated objects in the real environment. The app recognizes some elements in the real environment and places objects in relation to it with differing levels of interactivity. Think of retail apps that allow you to see how a certain piece of furniture looks in your living space. It also has increased potential in automotive applications with AR-based heads-up displays (HUD) in which information in the driver's line of sight on windshields could help avoid collisions. HUD is even available in bathroom mirrors where you can get time and weather updates while shaving or applying makeup.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at products from Texas Instruments and Maxim Integrated that enhance VR and AR experiences.


Better Display, Better Sound

The Texas Instruments TPS99000x-Q1 System & Illumination Controller is an integral component of the DLP553x-Q1 chipset, which also includes the DLPC230-Q1 DMD display controller. This chipset provides the functions needed to support and exceed HUD systems for a wide field of view and augmented reality applications. The chipset also is ideal for automotive advanced lighting applications (high-resolution headlight) and adaptive driving beam (ADB). The controller is AEC-Q100 qualified. The TPS99000-Q1 also includes numerous system monitoring and diagnostic features, such as configurable analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), Trans-Impedance Amplifiers (TIAs), and watchdogs.

Maxim Integrated MAX98360A/B/C/D Digital Class-D Amplifiers are pulse-code modulation (PCM) input power amplifiers. They deliver Class-AB audio performance with the efficiency of Class-D, which is the highest level. The plug-and-play amplifiers have a wide range of applications, including gaming devices (audio and haptics), smartphones, smart speakers, notebook computers, Internet of Things devices, tablets, and cameras. The amplifiers have their differences: The MAX98360A and MAX98360B have rapid 1ms turn-on times while the MAX98360C and MAX98360AD ramp the volume over 13ms during turn-on and turn-off. They're small: The amplifiers are available in a discrete 9-pin wafer-level packaging (0.4mm pitch) and 3.69mm2 solution size with a single bypass capacitor. Visit Mouser to learn more about this amplifiers' features and applications.

Tuesday's Takeaway

VR and AR technologies have grown markedly over the past few years. The number of VR/AR devices shipped worldwide is expected to increase to 68.6 million units in 2023, according to Statista. Hardware is becoming more affordable, internet speeds are faster, and consumer acceptance is on the rise, according to various reports. AR and VR headsets are projected to have sales of over 30 million units annually by the end of 2023. To say we're going places with immersive technology now seems like an understatement.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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