Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cut the Cord

My company has been busy demonstrating a high-performance wireless video solution that works with our virtual reality goggles. As part of product launch preparations, we've surveyed many professionals worldwide to understand what they are looking for in a wireless HMD and why would they find such a product attractive.

A simple question that was asking the survey participants what the key benefits they are interested in obtaining from a wireless HMD. About 170 people answered this survey and the benefits they identified were as follows:

Survey participants could choose more than one benefit, so it's ok that the total number of benefits selected exceeds the number of respondents.

These responses also came with an area for entering free text. Many of the free text responses associated with this question dealt with the complexity and inconvenience of having an HMD being tethered. For instance, some respondent wrote “Detangle the user, prevent them from pulling on the cord and knocking the HMD off”, and “The main reason I have for obtaining a wireless HMD is that users get entangled with the cables VERY often, causing discomfort and frustration”.

This is perfectly understandable. A key attraction of using HMDs is the potential for a portable, personal experience with 360° freedom of movement. However, as long as HMDs are connected via an 'umbilical cord' to a PC, movement is restricted and cables become a major distraction.

I do think early implementations of wireless goggles will have the wireless receiver and perhaps a battery pack as some sort of 'belt pack' from which a short cable will run to the HMD. This still provides very substantial mobility benefits. Just try rotating 360 degrees with wired HMD! As far as we have seen, the level of integration and power consumption is not there yet to combine power and wireless in package that is so small and so light that it can be worn on the head next to the goggles.