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A new phase encoding approach for a compact


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Article in Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering December 2008
DOI: 10.1117/12.822423

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A new phase encoding approach for a compact head-up display
Jaroslaw Suszeka, Michal Makowski*a, Maciej Sypeka, Andrzej Siemiona, Andrzej Kolodziejczyka,
Andrzej Bartosza
a
Faculty of Physics, Warsaw University of Technology, 75 Koszykowa, Warsaw, Poland, PL00662

ABSTRACT

The possibility of encoding multiple asymmetric symbols into a single thin binary Fourier hologram would have a
practical application in the design of simple translucent holographic head-up displays. A Fourier hologram displays the
encoded images at the infinity so this enables an observation without a time-consuming eye accommodation. Presenting
a set of the most crucial signs for a driver in this way is desired, especially by older people with various eyesight
disabilities. In this paper a method of holographic design is presented that assumes a combination of a spatial
segmentation and carrier frequencies. It allows to achieve multiple reconstructed images selectable by the angle of the
incident laser beam. In order to encode several binary symbols into a single Fourier hologram, the chessboard shaped
segmentation function is used. An optimized sequence of phase encoding steps and a final direct phase binarization
enables recording of asymmetric symbols into a binary hologram. The theoretical analysis is presented, verified
numerically and confirmed in the optical experiment. We suggest and describe a practical and highly useful application
of such holograms in an inexpensive HUD device for the use of the automotive industry. We present two alternative
propositions of car viewing setups.
Keywords: Head-Up Display, Holography, Mosaic hologram.

1. INTRODUCTION
Head-Up Displays have been used in aviation industry since the 1970s. The original setup assumes that the pilot looks
through a semi-reflective glass plate. The picture is projected from the below display and after being reflected from the
glass plate, it reaches the eyes of the pilot. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a low cost HUD for automobiles.
The idea is that the driver can see the road through a transparent element. Such an element, depending on configuration,
can be in fact a computer-generated hologram [1,2]. The main concept is based on the process of recording many images
in a single computer-designed hologram. When illuminated by a set of LED diodes or laser light sources, the hologram
produces virtual images, which are visible at the infinity. The images represent a set of the most crucial warning signs,
known from the conventional gauges in cars. The device eliminates the main problem of drivers: switching the sight
from near objects inside the cabin i.e. the gauges, a map, a radio panel, to far objects: the road, other cars, road signs and
pedestrians. The time consumed on the switching between the two distances is relatively long [3] and causes the danger
of missing critical events, especially at high speeds. The total time spent on eye accommodation, brightness adjustment
by stretching the iris, moving the head, locating gauges varies from 500 ms to 640 ms. Meanwhile at 100 km/h the car
covers a distance of approximately 30 meters. Additionally the mental workload of the brain is very large after many
accommodations and the driver quickly becomes tired [4]. Solving this problem is especially desired by the older people,
because of their common diseases: presbyopia or long-sightedness (inability of seeing close objects) and glaucoma
(inability of seeing objects far from the center vision spot). Unless they have all the essential information very close to
the center vision spot and in a far distance, they might miss important events. This greatly affects their safety on the road.
In military and civil aviation HUD devices successfully enable the pilots to look at the outside world instead of at the
cockpit. Presented images are dynamic and exhibit a high contrast. Also the brightness is automatically adjusted to the
outside lighting conditions. On the other hand, the classic HUD devices have some serious disadvantages and limitations
when the car applications are considered. CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) devices are heavy and large (approx. 5dm3) and
power-consuming [5,6]. DMD (Digital Micromirror Devices) and LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays) are smaller but also
much more expensive. Current prices of such conventional devices reach over $5,000 for high class segment automobiles
and much more for airplanes. In luxury cars, the HUD devices based on CRT or LCD are becoming more and more
popular. For the high price, they offer a full versatility of the dynamically displayed image. They display warning signs,
speed, navigation maps, night vision etc. Our idea is to make a low-cost HUD for the economic segment of cars. We take

*michal.makowski@if.pw.edu.pl; phone 48 22 2347977; fax 48 22 6282171

16th Polish-Slovak-Czech Optical Conference on Wave and Quantum Aspects of Contemporary Optics,
edited by Agnieszka Popiolek-Masajada, Elzbieta Jankowska, Waclaw Urbanczyk, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141,
714124 2008 SPIE CCC code: 0277-786X/08/$18 doi: 10.1117/12.822423

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-1


2008 SPIE Digital Library -- Subscriber Archive Copy
advantage of the fact that only a small set of the most crucial static warning signs is really necessary in such displays.
Furthermore, nowadays we observe a great improvement in car GPS navigation setups. They become inexpensive and
very popular. In such systems we only need a few simple signs, e.g. arrows, dead end or speed limit signs. The authors
believe that our idea will be a suitable solution for such car navigation devices. Those combined with a HUD display
should seriously improve safety on the road. To sum up: present HUD devices can be divided into two categories: large
and expensive and small and extremely expensive. Our proposition can be classified into a third category: small and
inexpensive.

2. METHODOLOGY
2.1 Fourier hologram as a simple HUD device
A Fourier hologram can be considered a simple HUD device. Such a structure contains a Fourier transform of an
encoded image [7,8]. While looking through the hologram, the human eye lens transforms the Fourier distribution into a
non-inverted image, which is created directly on the retina. The viewer can see the images in the infinity, which is a very
important advantage in automotive applications. The time consumed by the driver to switch from far-vision to close
distance vision is larger than 500 ms and increases with age [3]. This is why viewing at infinity is suitable for driving
especially at high speeds, as no eye accommodation is required. This fact is also commonly used in the designing of
holographic sights for firearms, see HoloSight [9]. Standard Fourier hologram consist of two parts: amplitude and phase.
Combination of these two sets of information provides the best possible reconstruction quality. Nevertheless, for
purposes involving looking through the hologram, it is undesirable to include the amplitude part. The reason is that the
amplitude distribution absorbs a major fraction of the reconstruction light beam, thus making it impossible to maintain a
clear view on the road through the device. This is the reason why we focus on pure phase Fourier holograms. The
removing of the amplitude part results in a point-like distribution of the Fourier spectrum on the surface of the hologram,
which leads to low-quality reconstruction. On the other hand adding a random phase, or diffuser, to the encoded pattern
improves the spectrum distribution, but increases the visibility of speckles in the reconstruction. In automobile
applications, the quality is a very crucial factor, thus the iterative optimization technique was used in this project. After
adding a random initial phase distribution, a series of 1000 iterations was performed, based on a Gerchberg-Saxton [10]
algorithm. After 500 iterations the influence of speckles has been significantly reduced and the obtained contrast has

ii ii
increased, as seen in Fig. 1.

a) b) c)
Fig. 1 The improvement in the quality of a numerical reconstruction against the number of iterations of the Gerchberg-
Saxton algorithm: a) after 1 iteration; b) after 10 iterations; c) after 500 iterations
One region of dark area and one region of bright area were taken for analysis, as shown in Fig. 2. The statistical results
are shown in Table 1. The contrast rate was calculated by dividing the average intensity in the bright region by the
average intensity in the dark region. The noise rate is equal to an average standard deviation of intensity in both dark and
bright regions.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-2


a) b)

Fig. 2. Test regions used for statistical evaluation of a progress in the quality of reconstruction due to the use of the
Gerchberg-Saxton algorithm

Number of iterations Contrast rate Noise rate


1 4,9 0,17
10 7,0 0,10
500 10,4 0,05

Table 1. Evolution of the contrast and noise rates against the number of iterations of the Gerchberg-Saxton algorithm

2.2 Mosaic hologram


The proposed method assumes encoding of a set of simple signs into a hologram. Two exemplary test images and their
iteratively optimized holographic phase distributions are shown in Fig. 3. The simulations were performed using an array
of 1024x1024 pixels with a 10m sampling. The experimental reconstruction was performed using a converging wave
from a He-Ne laser.

hA

a)
(4 b) c)

hB

Fig. 3. Quasi continuous hologram phase distributions (central magnified regions from matrix 2048 per 2048 points,
sampling 10m) (a) and corresponding reconstructed images from: b) simulation and c) experiment

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-3


For practical reasons including fabrication techniques, we focus on binary phase holograms only. The binarization of a
phase causes the appearance of an inverted ghost image, as shown in Fig. 4. This is the reason why only symmetrical
symbols are suitable for encoding using a binary phase. In this paper we propose a new method of encoding non-
symmetric symbols into a binary phase element. The ghost images shall be separated using carrier frequencies in
following steps of the method.

hA

a) b) c)
hB

Fig. 4. Binary phase distributions (a) and corresponding reconstructed images from: b) simulation and c) experiment
Encoding multiple images into a single Fourier hologram requires either a multi-exposure or a spatial segmentation
technique. In this work a special mosaic technique is used. Both phase distributions hA and hB were multiplied by an
intensity chessboard-like 2-D functions fA and fB represented by the below formulas (Eq. 1), where denotes a
convolution and a, b denote the sizes of a chessboard element along x and y axis, respectively.
x y x y
f A = rect rect comb comb
a b 2a 2b
(1)
x y xa y b
f B = rect rect comb comb
a b 2a 2b
The purpose of this operation is to encode both phase distributions, which were formerly placed on the whole surface of
the single hologram, on one mosaic hologram. In the simulations presented in this paper following values were used:
a=b=2mm and the size of the test holograms was 20mm x 20mm. The final hologram (Error! Reference source not
found..,Error! Reference source not found..) is a sum of two segmented phase distributions. Additionally, for each
hologram the chessboard function is multiplied with phase carrier frequency, denoted as gA and gB in Error! Reference
source not found.. The carrier frequency has different spatial frequency and direction for each encoded image. The
whole process can be described by Error! Reference source not found..
h final = hA f A g A + hB f B g B (2)
The scheme of a mosaic hologram creation process for two objects is shown in Error! Reference source not found..
The influence of the multiplication by gA and gB is omitted in hfinal for clarity.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-4


.......f
ISif UUUUUU hA gA
U......
.......
a
aa .......
U......
......
.......
.......
*
a ......._
In 1I \ hfjnaj

S gBj
C
Fig. 2 Basic idea of the mosaic hologram creation process: f - chessboard mosaic function; h iteratively optimized
phase of a hologram; g phase carrier frequency; h final magnified central region of a final. Influence of
segmentation visible in h final.
For each case a phase only iterated hologram (hA and hB) is multiplied by a phase of a saw-tooth grating (gA and gB
respectively) and then multiplied by an intensity chessboard-like 2D function (fA and fB respectively). Both distributions
obtained in this way are added. Their sum represents the final transparent phase only hologram, see hfinal in Error!
Reference source not found.. By performing all the described operations, we achieve three assumed goals: the
hologram is phase-only, optimized against speckles and contains several spatially separated encoded images.
2.3 Mosaic hologram ghost images
Let us consider a simple iterated phase only hologram (like hB, see Error! Reference source not found.) multiplied by
intensity chessboard-like distribution. The reconstructed field in an one dimensional case can be described analytically as
follows (Error! Reference source not found.).

x x
{hB f B } = hB rect comb =
a 2a (3)

= 2a 2 H B [comb(2a x ) sinc(a x )]

Where HB denotes the reconstruction of a hologram without the presence of the chessboard-like function. As it can be
seen in Error! Reference source not found., the reconstructed image is convolved with the combus function, which
should result in appearing of the unwanted ghost images. Nevertheless, the presence of the sincus function causes a
relatively small intensity of the additional images. The presence of the chessboard-like function with two different
periods influences on the quality of the final reconstruction, which is shown in Fig. 3.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-5


F-1
*

F-1
*

a) b) c) d)

Fig. 3 Influence of the period of the segmentation function: a=0,1mm (upper), a=1mm (lower): a) phase distributions; b)
intensity chessboard-like segmentation functions; c) numerical reconstructions; d) experimental reconstruction
The unwanted ghost images disturb the perception of a symbols and their existence is unavoidable. Nevertheless the
multiplication with the sincus finction (Error! Reference source not found.) decreases their intensity, which makes
them negligible to a human eye.
2.4 The novel method of encoding nonsymmetrical images on binary hologram
In general, the computer generated holograms described above require a continuous phase profile. In this paper we focus
on binary structures. This is related to the fact that technology of producing binary-phase diffractive structures is much
simpler and cheaper. An unwanted side effect of the binary phase coding is the existence of the additional symbol, which
is formed by the 1st order of diffraction, as shown in Error! Reference source not found.b. In the case of symbols
with axial symmetry, the images formed by both +1st and 1st orders of diffraction are covering each other. Due to this
fact the diffraction efficiency increases twice, which improves then signal to noise ratio in the observed image. On the
other hand, in asymmetric signs the reconstruction is ruined, as shown in Fig. 4c. Maintaining the axial symmetry of
used symbols is a very serious limitation. Most of the signs used in car industry are non symmetric. That is why in this
work we focus on axially asymmetric signs only. In the case of a continuous phase profile, one can successfully encode
such images by introducing a saw tooth diffractive grating, as shown in Fig. 4a, b. A hologram having a quasi-
continuous phase multiplied with a quasi-continuous grating creates only one symbol. Nevertheless, the manufacturing
of this kind of hologram is very expensive. However, by using an appropriate sequence of the binarization and
multiplication processes for each part of the hologram, it is possible to achieve a clear image in +1st order of diffraction
only. This feature of the final hologram enables creating asymmetrical symbols with the use of binary phase distribution.
Our method of encoding an asymmetrical symbol with a binary phase distribution without any disturbing images
assumes binarizing a quasi-continuous hologram, i.e. phase distribution previously multiplied by a saw tooth grating and
a chessboard-like segmentation function. In result the asymmetrical symbol is free of unwanted disturbances, as it can be
seen in Fig. 6d and Fig. 5.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-6


a) b)

*1
c) d)
Fig. 4. Numerical reconstruction of the combined holograms:
a) quasi-continuous phase distribution multiplied by a binary grating
b) quasi-continuous phase distribution multiplied by a quasi-continuous grating
c) quasi-continuous phase distribution multiplied by a binary grating then binarized
d) quasi-continuous phase distribution multiplied by a quasi-continuous grating then binarized

3. EXPERIMENT
The numerical simulations presented in this paper were performed on arrays of 1024 by 1024 points with the sampling
size of 10m. As a consequence of the discretized Fourier spectrum, the reconstructed image is multiplicated. It can be
seen in Fig. 3 that the distance between the disturbing ghost images depends on the period of the chessboard-like
function. Thus, one can adjust the separation to reach the acceptable level. In addition, the ghost images are relatively
dark, so they do not affect the overall viewing experience. As it can be seen in Fig. 4, the reconstruction of a hologram
designed with our novel method denoted in Error! Reference source not found., results in two encoded images
displayed simultaneously. In order to separate the obtained images, a phase profile of an appropriate diffractive grating
was added to the partial sub-holograms. In this paper, two orthogonal saw tooth gratings with a period of 40m were
used. The phase distributions obtained is such way were photographically shrunk onto holographic plates, i.e. Agfa-
Gevaert Scientia 10E56 using white light illuminators. The reconstruction of the hologram was performed in a
converging wave formed by a He-Ne laser with a wavelength of 632,8nm. The resulting pictures were recorded by a
Canon EOS 400D digital camera, without the use of lens the images were projected directly onto a CMOS array. The
use of 40m carrier frequencies yielded a large separation of the images. The magnified binary phase distribution and the
numerical and experimental reconstruction of the final hologram are presented in Fig. 5. The experiment was performed
by illuminating the hologram with a converging wave from a pinhole-lens setup. The picture in Fig. 5 was taken at the
focal distance of the converging wave using a digital camera.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-7


a) b) c)
Fig. 5 Magnified central region of phase distribution with segmentation visible (a) and the reconstruction of a hologram
containing two images with two carrier frequencies added: b) numerical, c) experimental.
The visible central peak is a result of a technical limitation of the used fabrication method, i.e. errors in the timing of the
chemical processing. With the use of far more exact fabrication methods like Electron Beam Lithography, the peak
would not be visible. A particular warning sign encoded in the hologram can be displayed by illuminating the hologram
with an incident light at a particular angle [11]. We have achieved that all the signs are not displayed at the same time
they are selectable by switching on and off a set of LED or laser sources, mounted at different angles to the holographic
element. We can control the position of the final images by selecting the period of the included diffractive gratings. In
automobile applications this allows us to design a fully customizable virtual dashboard for a particular car and for the
needs of a particular driver. Including more than two signs in the final hologram would require an exchange of the
segmentation function. For example a hexagonal cell structure is predicted to be optimal in case of the three signs.
Encoding a large number of input patterns onto whole surface of a hologram most likely will decrease the clarity of a
selected image. Establishing the limit of the number of encoded signs is a matter of our future research.

4. APPLICATION: CAR VIEWING SETUP


Here we discuss two options of a viewing setup to be used inside a car cabin. The simplest setup is shown in Fig. 6. The
array of light sources, i.e. lasers or LED diodes illuminate the hologram plate, which is situated right in front of the eyes
of the driver. Looking directly through the plate, the desired symbols appear at the infinity behind the windshield.

Fig. 6 Transitive holographic HUD viewing setup for a car cabin: a) the array of light sources illuminate the hologram (b),
which produces virtual images placed in front of the car (c), seen by driver (d)

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-8


The number of light sources in the array (Fig. 6a) is equal to the total number of images encoded in the hologram. When
a light source is turned on, the image associated with this particular illumination angle appears in front of the eyes of the
driver. Implementation of such setup in the car requires mounting a glass hologram plate in front of the drivers eyes.
The main cost of known automotive HUD devices is due to their volume: making 5 dm3 of space in a car is expensive.
The proposed device consists of only two objects: a diffractive structure engraved on a glass plate and a small array of
light sources, e.g. semiconductor lasers or LED diodes [5]. Both elements are easy to fit in the cabin of the car, as seen
on the visualization in Fig. 6. The glass plate should be covered with an anti-reflection coating in order to block the
reflections from the world outside the windscreen. Additionally, in order to adapt to the position, a proper mounting to
the windscreen is suggested. The only element of the HUD with power demand is the array of light sources, but the
amount of electricity consumed in comparison to CRT devices is practically negligible. The light sources are supposed to
be powered by an adjustable power supply, adapting the current to the external lighting conditions. Besides the obvious
advantages, the proposed setup has some disadvantages. Looking through a glass plate situated at a different angle than
the windshield, as shown in Fig. 6 can cause unusual reflections and shadows. This can cause serious distractions while
driving. Additionally, the security issues in the case of an accident must be taken into account: having a glass plate right
in front of the eyes is not a safe solution. A proper mounting allowing the adjustment to match drivers height is
required, along with an anti reflection coating of the glass plate to diminish ghost images. All the mentioned features
increase the total price of a final device. That is why our current research is focused on an alternative reflective viewing
setup assuming holographic images reflected from a windshield, as shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7 The alternative viewing setup assuming a reflection from a windshield


In this setup, the array of light sources (a) illuminate the hologram plate (b), which generates a wavefront reflected by the
windshield (c). The driver (d) looking through the windshield sees the virtual images placed in the infinity behind the
window (e). The main advantage of this setup is the lack of glass plate in front of the drivers eyes. Looking through the
windshield without any additional obstacles is very comfortable and no distraction is involved. On the other hand, any
glass window has a curvature, which has to be compensated on the stage of calculation of the phase of hologram. The
close distance from the array of light sources to the hologram plate enable us to obtain larger angles of incidence, thus it
allows to encode more images into a single structure. The main drawback of this solution is the need for more space
inside the cabin (a, b). The other serious issue is the appearance of ghost images reflected from the second surface of the
windshield glass. The suppressing of ghost images in the reflective setup with the use of coherent light is an interesting
matter of our current research.

Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7141 714124-9


5. CONCLUSIONS
We have introduced a working low-cost HUD setup based on a synthetic binary mosaic hologram. Several images are
combined on a single hologram by using a chessboard-like function. Using carrier frequencies allows to choose visible
holographic images by altering the angle of incident light. The use of a novel design sequence enables displaying of
asymmetrical symbols with the use of binary phase distribution only, which is our original contribution to this area of
research. The proposed device designed on the mentioned principle consists of a hologram on a glass plate and an array
of light sources. The limited size and the lack of moving parts enables it to fit into a small-sized car cabin. Our HUD
allows a proper displaying of crucial warning signs in front of the driver, at the infinity. The presented experimental
results fully confirm the predictions made during numerical simulations. Using LED diodes as light sources allows high
quality reconstructions, without speckles, although in this case a wavefront curvature compensation technique is
required. The future research in this matter includes: an exact study on the influence of chessboard-like function or a
different mosaic function, establishing the maximal number of objects to be encoded simultaneously, the implementation
of multiple colors, the compensation of a LED wavefront curvature. It also includes the compensation of a windshield
curvature and the suppression of ghost images in an alternative reflective viewing setup when using coherent and non-
coherent light.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This paper was supported by the Warsaw University of Technology and the European Union 6th Framework Programme
NEMO (Network for Excellence on Micro-Optics, www.micro-optics.org). The authors would like to thank Ms.
Agnieszka Fajst for valuable discussions and an editorial help.

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