Dr Peter Christopher

Photo of Dr Peter Christopher

Civil Engineering (MEng), Maths (MSc), Ultra-Precision Engineering (MRes), Photonics (PhD)

Research Fellow
CSO/Director @ Exobotics, CSO/Director @ ProSpectral

Biography

I finished my undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Bristol University in 2014, before working in Software/RnD for Autodesk while doing an Open University maths masters on the side. I was also lucky enough to sell a software invention which gave me the financial security to return to academic study. Looking for a new challenge, I came to Cambridge in 2016 where I completed a masters in ultra-precision engineering and PhD with Prof. Tim Wilkinson on optical systems for 3D printing. I am also co-founder of two Cambridge startups: Exobotics, a company developing hardware for space applications; and ProSpectral, a company developing multispectral imaging solutions for recycling, agricultural and geological applications. I also maintain a traditional software consultancy business.


Outside of industry/academia, I enjoy studying ancient languages, programming, reading and strategy gaming. I'm also an active member of the Maker community with recent projects revolving around amateur blacksmithing and forging.


Research

Ever since the first Star Wars movie people have been fascinated by the idea of holograms. Long seen only in niche applications such as security, optical tweezing and microscopy; computer-generated holography has seen a resurgence of interest due to the development of virtual reality or augmented reality headsets. Like 3D cinema before them, current VR/AR systems are stereoscopic, presenting two slightly different flat images to the viewer. This imposes impossible focusing expectations on users where visual information is presented on a plane centimetres from the eye but must be perceived it as being many metres away. This difference, known as the accommodation-vergence conflict is one of the major factors holding VR/AR headsets back from wider use.


The leading contender for solving the accommodation–vergence conflict is holography. Capable of fully reproducing a complex light field, holographic systems are equivalent to light actually having travelled from the object. While significantly more technically and computationally challenging than conventional systems, I believe that holographic techniques will be incorporated into the next generation of headset technologies.


During my time at Emmanuel, I intend to apply these techniques to the wider problem of headset-free virtual reality reminiscent of the ‘Holodeck’ from Star Trek. As a passionate believer in education and lowering global boundaries, I believe that the more immersive the communication technology, the easier the information transfer. I also hope to introduce full virtual reality to real-world applications from physical therapy to pilot training.


A friend once gave me the advice to “always be the worst player in the band”. What she meant was to always work in a place where you have to strive to keep up with the people around you and this cannot be more true than in joining a college such as Emmanuel. I’m looking forward to meeting and learning from everybody here as well as, most importantly, meeting the ducks.


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