• Photonics Europe
    Onsite News
    New for 2018
    Special Events
    Industry Events
    Student Optical Design Challenge for VR, AR, MR
    Photonics Innovation Village
    European Projects/Networks
    Onsite Services
    For Authors/Presenters
    For Chairs/Committees
    For Exhibitors
Palais de la Musique et des Congrès
Strasbourg, France
22 - 26 April 2018
Search Program:  go
Print PageEmail PageView My Schedule

Students design solutions for tomorrow's immersive display products

2018 Student Optical Design Challenge for VR/AR and MR at SPIE Photonics Europe 2018

Student Optical Design Challenge for VR, AR, MR
SPIE is joining with the world leading companies in VR, AR, and MR head-mounted display hardware development to organize the first Student Optical Design Challenge. See students apply their creativity and university optics education to challenging, tangible industry specifications for today’s immersive display products.

Part of the Digital Optics for Immersive Displays Conference

Important dates

Participant notification
31 January 2018

Submit final paper
6 April 2018


The competition offers four specific design challenges for students to address. A Jury—comprised of industry leaders sponsoring the event and world-leading academic figures in AR, VR, and MR—will review submissions and a 3-5 minute pitch by participants to determine three winners for each of the four challenges. Over €50,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded throughout the competition, thanks to generous sponsorships from several companies. 

Each student can participate in up to two of the four challenges. The optical design software is at the choice of the student. However, some of the industry sponsors are making their optical design software available free of charge for any student applying for the challenge by submitting an abstract.

The four challenges:

1. Designing a limited FOV monocular see-through smart glass imaging system.
2. Designing a compact Virtual Reality (VR) binocular display system with fixed optical foveation.
3. Designing a compact Vergence-Accommodation conflict (VAC) mitigation display architecture for AR, VR HMDs, HUD or desktop display.
4. Open AR/VR/MR design challenge.



Bernard Kress, Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft HoloLens

Bernard Kress
Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft / Hololens

Over the past two decades, Bernard Kress has made significant scientific contributions as an engineer, researcher, associate professor, consultant, instructor, and author. He has been instrumental in developing numerous optical sub-systems for consumer and industrial products, generating IP, teaching and transferring technological solutions to industry. Application sectors include laser materials processing, optical anti-counterfeiting, biotech sensors, optical telecom devices, optical data storage, optical computing, optical motion sensors, digital displays systems, and eventually HUD and HMD displays (smart glasses, AR/MR/VR). Bernard has been specifically involved in the field of micro-optics, wafer scale optics, holography and nano-photonics. He has published half a dozen books and has more than 35 patents granted. He is a short course instructor for the SPIE and has been chair of various SPIE conferences. He is an SPIE fellow since 2013 and has been elected to the board of Directors of SPIE (2017-19). Bernard has joined Google [X] Labs in 2011 as the Principal Optical Architect on the Google Glass project, and is since 2015 the Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft on the Hololens project.

VR, AR, MR Hands-on Demos. Reserve your spot today.

You MUST reserve a time slot. Click here to reserve.
The demos are open to attendees of Photonics Europe Conference and / or Exhibition
You must have a badge to attend.

Thank you to the 2018 sponsors of the challenge

Gold sponsors
Oculus LightTrans
Google Microsoft
Zemax Jenoptik
Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd

Silver sponsors
Leia Inc. Amazon
Zeiss synopsys
Applied Materials

Equipment/software sponsors
Lambda Research NVidia
Zemax LightTrans

More than €50,000 in available prizes

Benefits to students participating in the challenge

In addition to some travel grants available to attend the event in Strasbourg, nine prizes will be awarded:

• Three First prizes: 5 000.00 Euros
• Three Second prizes: 2 500.00 Euros
• Three Third prizes: high end NVidia GPU card (>1000 Euros value)

The challenge provides a unique opportunity for students to demonstrate design creativity skills and gain exposure to some of the industry’s top companies.

Participant information and a description of all projects will be listed on the SPIE Photonics Europe website and in conference programme materials.

The submitted paper will be published in SPIE Proceedings for SPIE Photonics Europe 2018.

Winners will be acknowledged at the event during an award presentation, plus online at the conclusion of the event. In addition, winners may be highlighted in SPIE media, such as #FacesofPhotonics on Instagram.