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A Leading AR/VR Solution Provider Saves 60% Of Time While Optimizing Battery Life

Case Studies

A leading AR/VR solution provider

Saves 60% of Time While Optimizing Battery Life

Augmented reality (AR) is a rapidly growing technology that now applies to many applications in our daily life, from purchasing clothes without needing to physically try it on to safer medical procedures that use digital images overlaid on a surgeon’s field of vision. World AR/VR headset shipment is forecasted to grow exponentially at the rate of 52.5% through year 2022.1 Virtual reality (VR), on the other hand, enables a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. The gaming industry has already embraced VR technology and it is now finding new applications in education, real estate, travel, marketing and more. A China-based leading mobile AR/VR technology and operating service provider offers original design manufacturing and original equipment manufacturing (ODM and OEM) services to many partners to generate AR and VR industrial application solutions. The company also provides open platform and allow external software application developers to develop software to work with their hardware platform.

Power Consumption and Battery Size Challenges

Recently, this company developed a new generation of smart glass for AR. As display technologies evolve very rapidly, the display used in the AR headset must do the same. To deliver lifelike holograms, more powerful imaging display is required. It needs to have high resolution (higher than Full High Definition 1920x1080P) and fast refresh rate beyond 60 Hz to enhance viewer experience and to prevent dizziness. Due to the needs to acquire and process high resolution data at a fast rate, a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) is required to accomplish the tasks. This results in high overall power consumption for the headset. Earlier generations of smart glasses require the use of an AC power source which limits the portability of the glasses and the movements of the user, while some battery-powered smart glasses can be as big as a helmet due to the heavy and bulky battery pack. The company received feedback that the users do not like those smart glasses due to their weight and size. For the newer generation of smart glasses, this company tried to improve the weight and portability of the device. Therefore, they need to balance the battery size/capacity with the weight of the smart glasses. One of their key task was to understand how to balance the GPU processing power and battery life. Initially, the company used the onboard power supply and digital multimeter (DMM) to measure current drain but these instruments only gave static current data and provided limited insights of the current consumption behavior of the smart glasses. The design engineers lacked insights on how to improve the battery life of the device. For instance, when the design’s standby current failed, the engineer only saw a static current number and did not know what happened or how to improve it. As the company also offers open platform and allows external software application developers to develop software to run on their hardware platform, they need to ensure these software applications are designed properly and do not drain the battery of the smart glasses and cause short battery life. For instance, in some of the cases, they have found that the display has been left turned on unnecessarily, which drained the battery life.

Fast and Easy Way to Identify Design Weaknesses

With the Keysight X8712A IoT battery life optimization test solution, the company is now able to verify the battery life of the smart glasses while configuring it into various real-world operation modes. With the patented seamless ranging capability of the N6781A source-measure-unit (SMU), the heart of this solution, the design engineer can measure a wide range of current from tenths of milliamps of active mode current down to sub-microamperes of standby mode current. The solution also enables design engineers to perform event-based power consumption analysis, so they know which subsystems or events are consuming the most current and required design optimization. For instance, this solution will report the event occupied time and power consumption in percentage for individual events such as RF transmission, display turns on, vibration or GPU activities. Engineers can also use this solution to evaluate the performance of the software application and provide feedback to the developers for enhancement. Using the X8712A’s API driver, the engineer can easily customize the test plan and integrate the solution into their existing software platform.

Improve Battery Life Via Software Application Optimization

In one of the recent applications, the engineer used the X8712A to analyze the current consumption while the AR headset ran different applications. The onboard battery was removed and the SMU in the X8712A was used to power up the headset and to measure the current consumption during real-world operations. With the right thresholds set up in the X8712A PC software, the engineer was able to perform event separation and analyze the current consumption and occupied time in percentage for key subsystem events such as GPU and LCD activities. The engineer also used the complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF) to understand the peak-to-average current ratio within a certain period. CCDF analysis is a quick and effective way to analyze current consumption improvement before and after software optimization. With the event separation current consumption bar chart and CCDF graph, the engineer can easily understand how long the battery life can last while using the application.

The Results:

With the X8712A solution, this AR/VR platform provider is able to save 60% of test development and testing time in their design and development activities. This translates to several weeks of time saving, allowing them to release their new products to the market faster. They are also able to significantly improve the battery life of the smart glasses through software optimization. The smart glasses can now operate with a smaller and lighter battery pack. The X8712A solution also enables them to simulate the actual customer’s use behavior to ensure that the device is able to meet its published battery life specifications.

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