See-Through HMD for Consumers Further Off Than Expected
Note: When you’re done reading this, please see my followup post.
Today we have received confirmation from Vuzix CEO Paul Travers that the highly anticipated Vuzix Wrap 920, previously known as the AV920 Wrap, will not, in fact, be a see-through head-mounted display (HMD). It will instead be a “see-around” model. This means that the LCD viewing elements will be opaque, as in previous models, but will be suspended behind a sunglasses-style lens without obstructing the peripheral view around the display. In previous HMD devices this wasn’t generally the case because one doesn’t view the LCD panel and light source directly as one does a typical computer or television monitor. Put simply, an HMD requires focal optics so that your eyes can focus on something so close without giving you a headache.
(See this previous post where I reported on being told by Robert Rice, and then Vuzix, that the AV920 Wrap would, in fact, be a true optical see-through HMD.)
Presumably Vuzix will still be offering a stereo pair camera accessory for the Wrap 920, as was supposed to be produced for the original AV920 Wrap, but it’s hard to know what to expect at this point.
So while this does represent an incremental step forward in Vuzix’s offerings, it isn’t the one we were promised. More importantly, it isn’t the one we’ve all been waiting for.
I am, of course, disappointed by this news. After Lumus Optical went back to the drawing board, as they told Ori Inbar they had done in this interview on his his blog, Vuzix was the only company still promising a see-through head-mounted display for consumers any time soon.
Now? Well, we’re left waiting for:
- Somebody to get serious and invest some real VC money in Lumus
- Sony to produce something using using their holographic waveguide technology
- Konica Minolta to further develop their Holographic Optical Element technology
- Microvision to show that they’re serious by showing something other than a Photoshopped concept illustration (Microvision has been subcontracted to develop a new see-through HMD for the military under the ULTRA-Vis program, but who knows when that might lead to development of a civilian device)
- something unexpected to show up.
I had been hoping to be able to use a see-through HMD in the ISMAR demo presentation on which I’m working with Seac02 using their awesome LinceoVR software. It looks like we’ll have to make do with the conventional HMDs already at our disposal.
Maybe we’ll still see released products using Vuzix’s touted “Quantum Optics” before we get our quantum computers.