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Displays Toys

Where Are the High-Res Head-Mounted Displays? 384

Posted by kdawson
from the i-want-my-i-want-my-i-want-my dept.
vivian writes "Ever since 1996, when I first set eyes on a Sony GlassTron head-mounted display in Japan, I have been awaiting a lightweight, head-mounted display that actually has decent resolution and doesn't look like a brick tied to your face. The closest contender to date seems to be the WRAP 920AV from Vuzix, and they are partially transparent too, which is great, but as with every other unit I have found, they only offer video quality — 640x480. Given that there have been a number of other discussions on Slashdot, I can't be the only one here who is eagerly awaiting something that could actually be a viable alternative to a PC monitor — especially for gaming or 3d graphics work. Perhaps we could petition a manufacturer to make what we actually want? Something with a minimum of 1024x768 @30-60hz refresh, say, and capable of stereo vision. Extra karma if they incorporate head tracking."
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Where Are the High-Res Head-Mounted Displays?

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  • Why spend thousands of dollars smooshing a high resolution display to your face when you can blow up a flatscreen to epic proportions and get all the resolution you need? Practically speaking, the HMD does nothing additional other than give you headache.

    Even head tracking has taken a back seat. Interface design has moved away from the idea of strapping gagetry to your body and moved toward motion sensing devices that provide excellent spatial control and immersion without cramming you into a latex glove. (Bow chicka bow wow.)

    Take the Wii Remote as an example. Accelerometers and IR sensors work together to provide precise positioning. A gyroscope powered attachment called the Motion+ is coming out to close the gap on orientation difficulties. That's the low-end and look at what has already been achieved [youtube.com]. The high end stuff allows researchers to build entire rooms where gyroscopes and camera tracking provide location information while the subject is surrounded by projected images or large flat panels.

    The end goal is to blur the line between man and machine rather than having the machine trick man into believing he's in a different world. As it turns out, bluring the line between reality and unreality is hella lot easier than trying to replace the current reality.

    In short, don't hold your breath. The VR of the 90's is dead. Long live augmented realtiy.

    • by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:29PM (#28015073)

      Why spend thousands of dollars smooshing a high resolution display to your face when you can blow up a flatscreen to epic proportions and get all the resolution you need?

      Well, as someone who's been waiting for an affordable HMD that I can use for an augmented reality project I've been thinking of starting, let me just ask you one thing: How would I go about mounting a 50" LCD monitor or a projector + screen on my head in a way that doesn't make result in me constantly falling over?

      /Mikael

      • by bsane (148894) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:31PM (#28015115)

        If falling over is the reality your trying to experience, I'd say your all set!

      • by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:46PM (#28015341) Homepage

        One word: Counterbalance.

      • by gnick (1211984)

        How would I go about mounting a 50" LCD monitor or a projector + screen on my head in a way that doesn't make result in me constantly falling over?

        Well, the WRAP linked to in TFS claims to be equivalent to a 60" monitor as viewed from 9' away - So I think you're there. Unless of course you're really dedicated to the actual physical size, but the boom mount that you'll need to get that 50" display far enough away to see is going to cause some serious neck strain...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The 60" figure is just some market-drone BS they made up of what its equivalent would be if you imagined you were looking at a TV in your living room (i.e. sitting 9-12 feet from the screen). But bigger != better. There's a reason nobody wants a 640x480 display: it looks like total crap, and it's the exact same tech they had for sale at the sharper image in the late 80s. I didn't want it then, and I don't want it now.

          The trouble is: bigger means worse in this context. If you have 20/20 vision, then you woul

      • The problem is not just fitting a high quality HUD into your sunglasses, it's also a lot of the software that would be required to make any sort of useful "altered reality." In particular I'm thinking of the current deficiency in image recognition software.

        While I absolutely love the idea of having google, wikipedia, wolfram alpha, and a host of other information tools and search engines at my eyes' disposal, they are nearly entirely useless if the system can't readily recognize what I'm looking at.
      • by mikeage (119105)

        How would I go about mounting a 50" LCD monitor or a projector + screen on my head in a way that doesn't make result in me constantly falling over?

        Use it sitting down?

    • by shogun (657) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:32PM (#28015127)

      The VR of the 90's is dead. Long live augmented realtiy.

      Augmented reality != Isolated VR rooms as you have described above.

      Augmented reality requires transparent HMDs or something similar so that visual reality can be augmented with extra information and not hugeass displays in a room somewhere.

    • by andytrevino (943397) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:34PM (#28015159) Homepage

      Dammit, I want my Terminator HUD explaining objects to me as I look at them.

      That crunching sound? Oh, that's the sound of you crushing MY WILDEST DREAMS.

      • While that would be cool for us, it was really pretty ridiculous for the use it was given in the Terminator movies. I mean, come on... the most efficient way to get information from a cyborg's archives into working memory is by displaying it in English in the visual field? In the peripheral vision, no less?

        • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:02PM (#28015551)

          Especially the constant reviewing of commented 6502 source code for reading and writing to floppy disks by track and sector! Why possible purpose does it serve to be reading that while shooting up a police department?

        • by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:06PM (#28015613) Homepage

          Yeah - ridiculous for a cyborg, but awesome for me. I can't tell you how useful it would be for me if, when somebody walked up to me at a party, I received the following tips on my head's-up:

          * Name: John
          * Relationship: Husband of wife's co-worker
          * How well known?: Talked 3 times informally
          * Drink/Smoke: Y/N
          * Topics to avoid: Christian (fanatic), Janet (knocking her off behind wife's back)
          * Suggested topics: MMA/UFC, Italian food

          Would save me a lot of awkward conversation lulls.

          • by greenguy (162630)

            There was a movie where the video phone would do exactly this for you. It would give you info like you've mentioned, plus birthday, kids' names, employer, and so on.

            I can't remember the movie, though. Go go Slashdot hive mind!

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by apathyruiner (222745)

              I think that would be Back to the Future 2. IIRC the scene where old/crippled Marty gets fired.

          • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:29PM (#28016003) Journal

            Would save me a lot of awkward conversation lulls.

            Sure, but it would also provide inspiration for epic conversation lulz.

            So, John, I ran into Janet the other day at the pagan sex festival, where she and your wife performed unspeakable acts on a pentagram. Care for a smoke?

            Or, alternatively: So, John, I herd u liek Christ, so I put some 'body of Christ' into the body of Janet.

        • Obviously not, but that is the best way to get the concept of whats going on, into a form us humans can understand, duh! Like when the communications of the 2nd foundation are transcribed into words because their form of communication is so advanced we wouldn't understand it!

        • I think you have it backwards. It's not information being given to the cyborg, but information from the cyborg. Then the visual information would normally be beamed to the base or recorded to some sort of black box device. Or, maybe it was just a debugging tool that somebody forgot to turn off.
        • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:50PM (#28016345)

          While that would be cool for us, it was really pretty ridiculous for the use it was given in the Terminator movies. I mean, come on... the most efficient way to get information from a cyborg's archives into working memory is by displaying it in English in the visual field? In the peripheral vision, no less?

          The original Cylons were even better. What's the best way to pilot a raider? Strap in three robots, give them manual controls! And how do they communicate? By vibrating air molecules inside the ship! Wait, why was it pressurized again? So I take it if Cylons were in a ship that lost atmo, they'd have to communicate with sign language?

          That's right up there with Transformers, robots sitting in chairs at control panels, looking at video screens, and talking into telephones.

          How, having had our good laugh at this, I wonder how a Terminator-style robot would perceive that kind of information? I suppose any sensory recording from the unit would have a visual component as well as shitloads of onboard and environmental data that would be impossible for a human to fully appreciate. For humans debugging the prototypes of what Skynet eventually refined, I figure we'd probably see all shorts of HUD data that could be overlaid on top of the image for our benefit but Skynet wouldn't need it, nor would the terminator. I remember seeing a few years back an example of what sensory fusion and augmented reality could represent for a pilot. It showed transparent nested bubbles overlaid on the landscape representing the detection and engagement range of SAM's.

          If we're talking about technical problems with the basic terminator design, I think the hydraulics and exposed interior of the chassis is probably the worst. To pass for human, a terminator would need to have muscles attaching to the endoskeleton at the right spots and flexing naturally along with the motion of the form. The superhuman strength would come from motors enclosed within the joints so as to keep them from becoming rusty and gunked up with the blood and bodily fluids. Still, thems jus some nitpicks. It still looks badass and terrifying.

      • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28015361)

        You know, I've been wearing glasses since I was 12 or so and all of this time they have always been a hindrance. They fall off, get crushed by a passer-by when I'm swimming, get scratched up, press up against my face when I fall asleep in the chair, fly off when I get on a roller coaster, get in the way when kissing and cause all other kinds of trouble. It would be nice to get something extra out of the bit of wasted realestate on my face.

        Nerd rage, baby!

        • by Muad'Dave (255648)

          I had LASIK a couple of years ago, and have been tickled pink with the results. I went from -7 diopters in both eyes to 20/20. I'm in my mid-forties, so it was likely I would need reading glasses, but so far, I have not.

          I hear they can help correct farsightedness now as well.

        • I used to wear glasses for about 20 years since the age of 6, until I just got completly pissed of with the hassle of them - the main one being the feeling of always looking through a narrow window on the world, so I just stopped stopped one day and feel better for it.

          My right eye almost permanently sees the world in a blur (glasses never could get it to see things in sharp focus) but my left eye compensates enough to cycle/drive/solder SMD without any magnifying optics (though I do use a magnifying glass
          • At the risk of going off-topic, when I am teaching someone that is cross-dominant, I have them match their handedness to their dominant eye. It sounds like what you need is an eye patch, and to shoot left-handed. Yeah, if you have a whiz-bang riser in right-hand it could get expensive, but if glasses never get you sharp vision in the right eye, it might be the thing to do in the long run.
      • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28015365)

        Have you read "Rainbows End," by Vernor Vinge?

        I know it's not what you want (reality), it's fiction, but it's got some interesting concepts.

        For example, that computer display might as well just be on a contact lens instead on some bulky headset.

        Moreover, more than describing objects, you can color the world any way you want... want it to look medieval? It'll change the houses you see while walking down the street into huts and castles; someone riding a bike looks like they're riding a horse... and always online and always communicating with your friends.

        I'd hate it, but can see some applications that would be cool.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          That computer display might as well be in your brain.

          Silly to have it on a contact lens.

          There are already neural interfaces. They're not very good - since the brain moves about, and there are other issues to solve.

          But I'm pretty sure the brain can learn to use extra input and output channels especially if "installed" at a young age.
        • by idontgno (624372)

          Have you read "Rainbows End," by Vernor Vinge?
          I know it's not what you want (reality), it's fiction, but it's got some interesting concepts.
          For example, that computer display might as well just be on a contact lens instead on some bulky headset.

          Screw contact lenses. If you want an awesome Vernor Vinge innovation in user interfaces, consider the A Deepness in the Sky [wikipedia.org] and its version of localizers: smart dust which can "learn" to directly stimulate a user's optic nerve to create computer graphics with

        • by Jaknet (944488) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:34PM (#28016079)
          There was a short bit on BBC's Click (their "tech" news) a couple of weeks ago about a contact lens that is being built at the moment to give a visual overlay. So you could be nearer the mark than you think. It was not April the first either.
    • Why spend thousands of dollars smooshing a high resolution display to your face when you can blow up a flatscreen to epic proportions and get all the resolution you need?

      Giant flatscreens aren't very portable, which makes them less practical for on-the-go applications (including, but not limited to, augmented reality) compared to HMDs -- presuming, of course, you can get a good HMD. Which is one reason why people want HMDs.

      The high end stuff allows researchers to build entire rooms where gyroscopes and came

    • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:48PM (#28015363) Homepage

      Why spend thousands of dollars smooshing a high resolution display to your face when you can blow up a flatscreen to epic proportions and get all the resolution you need? Practically speaking, the HMD does nothing additional other than give you headache.

      Because it just hangs on the wall, probably doesn't provide 3D, and I stop seeing it the moment I turn around or leave the room.

      Take the Wii Remote as an example. Accelerometers and IR sensors work together to provide precise positioning. A gyroscope powered attachment called the Motion+ is coming out to close the gap on orientation difficulties. That's the low-end and look at what has already been achieved. The high end stuff allows researchers to build entire rooms where gyroscopes and camera tracking provide location information while the subject is surrounded by projected images or large flat panels.

      That's a very restricted solution. It works if you have a room to dedicate to it, and you're happy enough to interact with the system in one unique place. I think that's a pain and very limiting. Technology advances towards being portable. Making a huge investment in something I can't use most of the time seems the wrong way to go for me.

      The end goal is to blur the line between man and machine rather than having the machine trick man into believing he's in a different world. As it turns out, bluring the line between reality and unreality is hella lot easier than trying to replace the current reality.

      Er, a room covered with displays is exactly the old concept of VR. You're replacing reality completely there, except that instead wearing hardware it's all around you.

      In short, don't hold your breath. The VR of the 90's is dead. Long live augmented realtiy.

      My understanding of "augmented reality" is precisely an HMD that mixes reality with VR. Things like:

      Constant Internet connection that can be used at any time in any place

      GPS overlay right over your vision while walking on the street

      Vision enhacement - take the normal vision and modify it, by highlighting important things, removing ads, allow attaching a virtual sticky note on any building, extra cameras that allow to see from the back of your head or in infrared, easy lookups of data about things you see.

      AR games: Merge reality and a game, playing say, a FPS in a park. Create a chessboard on any surface.

      Merging RL with another world: I'd really like to be able to for instance merge RL with Second Life and make it so that somebody from SL can virtually sit near me and appear to be there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Dewin (989206)

        Merging RL with another world: I'd really like to be able to for instance merge RL with Second Life and make it so that somebody from SL can virtually sit near me and appear to be there.

        You thought people talking to "themselves" on cellphones was bad now...

        • I don't think it'll be much worse than the bluetooth headsets that are already pretty common.

          Though interacting with an invisible person will probably look really funny to everybody else.

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)
      Mounting a 50" LCD to the ceiling so I can watch TV in bed doesn't solve the problem of the light from the screen keeping my wife awake.
    • by feepness (543479)

      Take the Wii Remote as an example. Accelerometers and IR sensors work together to provide crappy, laggy as hell, positioning.

      Fixed that for you.

  • by tgatliff (311583) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:34PM (#28015153)

    The main issue as I recall with all of the projection glasses were the concern of eye strain because of too much light. I had a pair of the old sony classes, and they were no doubt hard on the eyes. In fact, I think they had a 4 hour limit of usage as I recall...

    In short... Unless the business world converts to a French way of living, I dont think that your glasses will every find their way into high end applications anytime soon.

    • Unless the business world converts to a French way of living ...

      A premise for a good joke, no doubt, but I'm having trouble getting the one that was already made. It's sunny in Paris? The French wear expensive glasses? R&D can't be done without long lunches and a pack of Gaulloise? Resenting the English increases market share?

      • R&D can't be done without long lunches and a pack of Gaulloise?

        Personally I'd leave out the cigarettes, but otherwise that's spot-on. :-)

      • by vlm (69642)

        Unless the business world converts to a French way of living ...

        A premise for a good joke, no doubt, but I'm having trouble getting the one that was already made. It's sunny in Paris? The French wear expensive glasses?

        Ahem... He's referring to the synergistic effects of merging Amero-Dilbertian corporate dress codes with french clothing optional beaches, obviously.

    • Too much light is trivially easy to solve. Put a layer of material like sunglasses inside the glasses to cut the light down to whatever is tolerable.

      While it's true that too much light can give you eyestrain and headaches (talk to any skier), there is no HMD that puts out anywhere close to that much light. It's not the light that gives you problems, with HMDs. It's the refresh rate, and ever-so-slightly screwed up optics that don't match your eyes closely enough. Human binocular vision isn't simple. An

      • by powerlord (28156)

        Now of course what I would prefer is a wrap-around display that gives me a field of view at least 200 degrees horizontally and 100 degrees vertically, and includes a layer of clear optical smart-gel on the inside that self-calibrates for my eyes. I need it as a HUD for my flying car...

        I'll make up a second one for you after I'm done making the first. I need it as a HUD for my battlesuit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by loufoque (1400831)

      Why emit light in the first place?
      Some display technologies, such as electronic paper, don't.

  • That looks seriously cool. Now, if it can work wirelessly with an iPhone (or similar device), include the camera and head tracking attachments, you have an entire platform for augmented reality right there.

    I suppose if you needed extra horsepower, you could put straps on a laptop and wear it as a backpack...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)

      Now, if it can work wirelessly with an iPhone (or similar device), include the camera and head tracking attachments, you have an entire platform for augmented reality right there.

      Personally, I have found myself wanting the ability to use my iPhone while walking or having it in my pocket without having to take it out.

      I mean the walking part I can do... Just not well seeing having to look down at the device or making my arms tired holding it up in my face. If I could some how use the iPhone in my pocket to te

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:37PM (#28015201)

    http://www.kopin.com/about-cyberdisplay/ [kopin.com] (Tiny LCDs.)
    http://wearcam.org/ [wearcam.org] (More complex than regular 'partially transparent' displays, but _far_ more capable - look up Mediated Reality / Augmented Reality.)

  • by Neuroticwhine (1024687) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:39PM (#28015229)
    I feel that to bring up motion tracking blurs the line between VR and a more mundane wearable display. I could see countless uses for a wearable display.

    For instance the ability to watch/play with out disturbing anyone else in the room (yes some people that read /. have other people in their rooms)... and i guess it might be fun to be able to watch pr0n with no one around to be the wiser.

    I demand my pr0n glasses!
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      and i guess it might be fun to be able to watch pr0n with no one around to be the wiser.

      Unless it also induces temporary erectile dysfunction, someone's gonna notice. At least until you get desensitized to it due to constant exposure.

  • lasor pico projector (Score:4, Informative)

    by alabandit (1024941) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:40PM (#28015251)
    my hopes lie here - hopefully HD in the release... http://www.microvision.com/pico_projector_displays/ [microvision.com]
  • Chicken vs Egg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Itchyeyes (908311) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:40PM (#28015255) Homepage

    I think that head mounted displays face something of a chicken vs. the egg situation. Simply put there just aren't currently any real applications for such a device. Traditional video obscures your vision. So, in order to watch it on one of these you must be standing (or sitting) still in one place. In which case traditional displays are simply a more economic way of showing the video anyways.

    I suppose that the "killer app" for head mounted displays is augmented reality (or AR), in which you would overlay digital data on the real world. But such technology is very much still in the laboratory stage of development (although some of it is just starting to make its way onto smart phones).

    • Re:Chicken vs Egg (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:46PM (#28015333) Journal

      I think what you're saying is that until PORN comes available on HMD, it isn't going to take off. You'd be amazed at how much porn drives technology.

      • That's exactly what I was thinking. If you're using porn for virtual reality, no one else can see what you're watching.

        As long as you can convince then that you just happen to like watching Finding Nemo with your pants down.

        • As long as you can convince then that you just happen to like watching Finding Nemo with your pants down.

          With some of the Finding Nemo fanfiction I've read^H^H^H^H heard about, you wouldn't even need to lie. You'd be pleasantly surprised how well Dory's lack of short-term memory becomes a useful plot device for introducing more fish to the gangbang.

  • my laundry list (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spyrochaete (707033) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:47PM (#28015347) Homepage Journal

    I want some sort of HMD or wearable computer so badly. I want a camera to record where I go and what I do and act as a backup for my cranial memory. I want it to recognize faces to keep track of my history that person. I want an internet connection everywhere so that I can call up an alternative recipe on the fly when I realize at the last minute that I'm missing an ingredient. I want to use the sum analyses of my automotive commutes to recommend ways I can change my driving behaviour to extend the life of my car and use less fuel. I want ubiquitous, always-ready, augmented reality. I want to evolve and extend my senses beyond what any human has ever been capable of, and I want to keep my private matters private.

    Is that so much to ask?

    • Yes. Because the MPAA, RIAA etc would want DRM installed.

      In a shopping mall with copyrighted music playing in the background? Then backup for your cranial memory is only allowed if you pay per recall and for the "format shifting".

      Radio playing somewhere? Same.

      Watching a movie in a cinema? Sorry, please check your auxiliary "brain" at the counter first before you are allowed in.

      A penny for "your" thoughts would be considered too cheap.

      Better fix copyright first, otherwise this augmented stuff isn't going to
    • Gordon Bell [microsoft.com] is a supercomputer expert who migrated over to MicroSoft Research. His recent project is MyLifeBits, a complete digital record of one's life.

      I am not sure where I read this, but some peopel are experimenting with wearable cameras to take snapshots of your entire day. The camera has a motion sensor in it to increase rates when the wearer appears more active. I suppose an iPhone could be programmed to track both motion and vocal activity of its host.

      I further read that psychologists are
  • by ecloud (3022) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:47PM (#28015353) Homepage Journal

    People just don't want to be teased with "hey Geordi" everywhere. It's bad enough at my job... I have a Linux box and a Windows box, each with dual monitors (not particularly big ones) and it's always "hey Houston, are you sure you don't need another monitor?" Everyone else

    I always thought HMDs sounded like a great idea, too. I guess they won't be socially accepted until they're integrated into eyeglasses without any noticeable extra bulges anywhere, and wireless too. How to get the battery into such a small form factor will be quite a trick to pull off.

    • "hey Houston, are you sure you don't need another monitor?"

      That's a good one. I am going to have to remember that.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:51PM (#28015403)

    The headmounted displays were accidently left in the flying cars in parking lot of the lunar hotel.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:52PM (#28015417) Homepage

    > I have been awaiting a lightweight, head-mounted display that actually has decent
    > resolution and doesn't look like a brick tied to your face.

    It will still look like a brick tied to your face but it will be from Apple so it will be cool.

  • glasses? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:58PM (#28015491) Journal

      HMD's are so retro-chic. Don't you know that all the cool research is now tapping the brain's retina layer to augment/alter vision?

      These days, I'm waiting for the hat/camera/socket that allow for text overlay, enhanced-spectrum cameras, and novel perspectives to our existing firmware.

      Remember, when dreaming go big.

    • That's the deal before any surgeon touches my eyes: if I can't get night vision, thermographic imagery, zoom and a HUD, nothing gets done.

      To hell with laser surgery, I want cyber-eyes.

  • Microvision (Score:2, Informative)

    by GerardAtJob (1245980)

    Microvision have all the patents for HMD/Retinal display, and is currently working with the US Army... for a few years.
    So you won't see any good HMD that doesn't give you an headache this year. Please retry later ;)

  • IT'ssssss (Score:2, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745)

    in the trunk of my anti-grav car parked in my luxury mansion orbiting Uranus.

  • DigiLens? (Score:5, Informative)

    by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:01PM (#28015533)

    Its not Hi-Res but its something people would wear more than some bulky goggles:

    http://www.digilens.com/products.html [digilens.com]

    Its more for augmented reality than virtual reality.

    Of course if you've a thousand dollars to blow there is always one of Emagin's products:

    http://www.3dvisor.com/ [3dvisor.com]

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:01PM (#28015545) Homepage
    a 2" screen a half inch from your eye was not the way the human eye was intended to work. no offense to how cool it would be though, but our eyes just have not evolved for that type of input.. things like depth perception, spatial awareness and stereoscopy break down. the best we can do is overlay projections which have been used in broadway musicals for years, and HUD which has been used to help old people drive cars and young people blow up third world countries.
  • by Twinbee (767046) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:03PM (#28015567) Homepage

    I bet weight and size has something to do with this. When OLED screen tech becomes commonplace, we'll see plenty more of these things. In addition to the other advantages of OLED, the high aperture ratio is useful (to avoid the screen door [wikipedia.org] effect), the size and weight is reduced compared to even LCD, and perhaps even more importantly, the viewing angle issue is solved completely.

    Perhaps more importantly, OLED can probably obtain a much higher pixel density more easily (considering this source [microoled.net], and also how small the 11" TV from Sony is...). The former mentioned a 0.38" display with a resolution of 560,000 pixels (1.7 million subpixels) in a press release. Anything even remotely close to that would be amazing.

  • The problem was that Virtual Boy had terrible games and gave users a headache.

    Had Virtual Boy succeeded, we might see more of this kind of thing.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      I still enjoy playing wario world on mine... I never got headaches from it, though.
    • by vertinox (846076)

      Had Virtual Boy succeeded, we might see more of this kind of thing.

      Virtual boy was VR "done wrong".

      It was monochrome and it was basically used a spinning mirror to simulate the 3d effect.

      No wonder kids got headache's after an hour.

  • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:19PM (#28015851) Homepage

    It ain't cheap, and I doubt you could even buy one if you had the cash, but for state of the art, do a little research into the HMD for the JSF (helmet mounted display for the Joint Strike Fighter / F-35). From the Rockwell Collins website:
    "Vision Systems International (VSI), a joint venture between Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems Ltd. of Israel, is developing the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) for the JSF. VSI's HMD offers a compact, versatile, lightweight and extremely rugged display with low power consumption. The JSF HMD is a binocular off-the-visor display providing the pilot with a large field-of-view video/calligraphic image to both eyes."

    http://www.vsi-hmcs.com/f35.htm [vsi-hmcs.com]

    From what I've read, it's simply amazing. The pilot will be able to look in ANY direction (including straight thru his body or the bottom or rear of the cockpit) to see augmented reality - with data fused from multiple sensors including infrared and radar, overlaid on the real world.

    http://uscockpits.com/Jet%20Fighters/F-35_Cockpit_(dusk_with_virtual_HMD).jpg [uscockpits.com]

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/f-35-hmds-pulls-the-gs-04088/ [defenseindustrydaily.com]

    By the way, "calligraphic" is worth noting. A normal video image simply cannot create very bright and precise light points, because it's a raster image. But a calligraphic display effectively overcomes this limitation, by using a separate CRT gun to hit the same phosphors with much more power in a non-raster format. So the display is a combined raster and beam system, providing some ability to provide very precise details at much higher brightness, while also allowing normal full-color display.

  • I picked up some Sony PLM-700E Glasstrons a couple of years back, 832x624 native resolution which can display a PC's 800x600 without scaling and 1024x768 with scaling.

    Trying to use a PC with them for any length of time is frustrating, the screens are clear and the optics are excellent (most of the cheap LCD glasses you get nowadays have atrocious optics), but something just doesn't seem quite right, I guess it's to do with how the screen is always set directly in front of your face no matter how much you
  • I've looked for head-mounted units in the past and what's out there is fairly unexciting, compared to monitor resolution. I considered what units I found online that cost up to $1200 USD or so. If there's anything really great, it costs more than that.

    Why bother with a head-mount display? Because it is the next progression in portable ubiquitous computing. Just as we are seeing smaller and smaller netbooks and smartphones with not-full but ever-expanding internet capabilities.

    The biggest draw of power
  • I had one of the Sony Glasstron headsets. I had the lower resolution one, but it was still expensive. The high resolution one was very expensive, thousands if I remember. Anyway, wanted it so I could watch movies without bothering the wife but the long cords, headaches, poor resolution, and awkwardness of them kept me from liking them. I sold it eventually. OLED sounds like an interesting idea, it would keep the power requirements down.
  • I'm not sure about you, but at that low a refresh my eyes would walk right out of their sockets and donate themselves to science in protest.

    Which, in foresight (heh) would be proceeding the rest of the body by only a few hours if I was lucky enough. By dying horribly in one of the following ways: flattened by a Hydrogen powered bus for wandering into traffic, skating right off the skytrain platform and falling the 60 meters or so to my doom or rolling onto the train right-of-way and becoming instant minceme

  • by janoc (699997) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:40PM (#28016191)
    Emagin Visor z800 - 800x600, built in tracker, ~1600 USD If you want better resolution, look at Kaiser Electro-Optics HMDs. However, this is pro-stuff, not for playing games at home or watching video. The prices start at ~20000 USD and higher, without trackers (the built-in trackers are crap - if you are spending this much, you have an external magnetic/optical tracker anyway).
  • I have been using a Myvu crystal ( http://www.myvu.com/ [myvu.com] ) for about 6 months now with my iPhone, and I love it (other than how ridiculous I look wearing them.) It can take a bunch of different video sources, and it has 640x480 resolution (which works fine mostly). I use it to watch movies. The most use I get out them is watching movies lying in bed or while riding a stationary bike at the gym. They work great for that.

  • State of the art... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmacs27 (1314285) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:07PM (#28016621)
    I work in vision science, and have worked with multiple forms of augmented reality/virtual reality/HMDs/large field projections... etc...

    Now granted, I'm a picky vision scientist, but HMDs have a long way to go before they are at all appealing on any sort of commercial scale. There are a couple of major problems from a technical standpoint. One, the resolution of the human fovea is far higher than any display put that close to your face could ever hope to attain. We just don't have the technology. Two, attaining a large FOV is problematic as all of our display technology is planar, making it wrap around seamlessly is difficult. Either you introduce optical artifacts (by using some sort of lens), or you have edges between displays (like you do with this one we have in our lab http://sensics.com/products/pisightSection/pisight.php [sensics.com] ). Finally, and a real killer, is optical accommodation. The eye, unfortunately for HMDs, is aware of the optical distance between the viewer and the plane of focus. With HMDs, even with all of the optical tricks they pull, what you are seeing is very close to your eye relative to what other cues to depth (notably stereopsis) would suggest. This, combined with the display lagging head movements creates an awfully nauseating experience I find.

    If you want a truly vivid 3d experience, I recommend the active stereo desktop setups. For these you use shutter glasses which alternates which frames of the monitor are seen by which eye. In my old lab we used those sorts of set ups to create a virtual viewing volume which was very convincing. In fact, we had the CRT facing downwards, and reflected it through a beam splitter so you could actually paint over real world objects. With the motion tracker we had we were able to do exact overlays. Once we masked your view of the real world, you couldn't even tell you weren't seeing the object you were actually holding.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vivian (156520)

      Seems like there are a lot of problems to solve still - I just find it frustrating that there seem to be products out there that seem so close to my requirements, only lacking in resolution, and probably refresh rate.

      I don't wear glasses, despite years at a screen since the Apple //e appeared on the scene, and years of reading books in the dark before that, so I have never had to worry about whether you could wear glasses with some particular hmd in my quest for the perfect one, but I suppose that also adds

  • Right Here... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cowtamer (311087) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:16PM (#28016749) Journal

    The PiSight HMD [sensics.com] promises 187 degrees horizontal and 84 degrees vertical FOV by tiling DLP chips. I have yet to see it myself, but the units start somewhere around $20K and go up depending on how much FOV you want). 1900x1200 per eye (kind of low, but higher than anything out there).

    The problem to solve with HMDs is not just field of view or resolution--you also need to solve the convergence [wikipedia.org] and accommodation [wikipedia.org] problems.

    I envision a future HMD unit integrating eye tracking and auto focus which exploits the way the human eye really sees (few degrees at a time, in extremely high resolution) instead of trying to render a very high resolution image at interactive frame rates. I imagine the fact that this has not been built is due to the catch-22 involving low demand and high cost [when only the military can afford your hardware and is willing to pay for it, there is absolutely NO incentive to mass produce it]

    In the meantime, the state of the art in VR is still in systems like the CAVE [mechdyne.com]. I think the Iowa State VRAC [iastate.edu] CAVE has something amazing like 16 Mpixel resolution...

    I am waiting for one of the game companies to start exploiting this. In the meantime, get yourself a pair of NuVision Cinema LCD shutter glasses (around $100), a $500 emitter, and a DLP 3DTV [dlp.com] device for under $3000 if you are serious about home-based VR. If you can drive the 3DTV device (NVidia is releasing drivers for it ... there is also hardware available from RealD), the quality is stunning. (You're on your own with head tracking...but there are cheap solutions out there such as the WiiMote based hacks...I've only used the more expensive solutions).

  • by adam.sys (1558109) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:48PM (#28017281)

    I've been involved with wearable computers since 1994. Further, I have been designing and fabricating head mounted displays for an academic client who is highly regarded in the field of optics since 2004. To say I know something about this subject would be a coy understatement.

    What is clear from reactions to all my previous demos is that people want a head mounted display that is inconspicuous, fits well, has high resolution, full color, wide field of view and produces a high quality image. Oh, yeah, it should be inexpensive as well. Because I've been working with world class optical experts, I know the physical reality of the optics. These criterion conspire against one another; improving one diminishes the others. So, one must prioritize these and do the best we can.
    Here is one potential ranking:

    1) unobtrusive
    2) fits well
    3) image quality
    4) wide field of view
    5) full color
    6) inexpensive
    7) high resolution

    Your request for high resolution with acceptable field of view and image quality makes the unobtrusive criterion impossible with today's technology. This is unacceptable to the public at large.

    I am working on a display system now that fits behind an ordinary looking pair of sunglasses. We have compromised resolution and, to some degree, field of view. I'm bound by a confidentiality agreement but I can tell you we are making advances with each successive project. The HMD is the last remaining barrier to a compelling wearable computer. One day your cell phone will be in your sunglasses.

  • by Revvy (617529) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:51PM (#28017327) Homepage
    I had no trouble finding a high-res HMD [inition.co.uk]. The price made me choke a bit, though.

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