Saturday, February 19, 2011

How will HMDs be impacted by the growth in 3D TVs?

Several million 3D TV sets shipped in 2010, with some reports claiming shipments of over 6 million sets. The industry is clearly aiming for higher volume in 2011. Is this 3D TV growth good or bad for the HMD market?

Very good, in my opinion.

3D TV are useless without 3D content, and this content is immediately useful inside head-mounted displays. Just like surround sound at home did not inhibit portable music players - the Walkman or the iPod - 3D TVs don't inhibit HMD sales.

With 3D TVs, an increasing number of users are exposed to the power of 3D and are thus stimulated to come up with new uses.

3D TVs will drive 3D games, but HMDs offer 3D gaming in a dynamic, 360 degree surround video environment that a TV cannot offer. HMDs can be portable and battery operated, whereas TVs are stationary and power-hungry. You can run around with an HMD on your head (especially with a wireless video link) but no one would consider running inside a room carrying a TV.

Do advances in fuel economy of cars impact air travel? Not really. Similarly, the use cases for TV and HMDs are different in other aspects as well. TVs are better suited to group viewing, whereas HMDs offer privacy. TVs provide all users with the same viewpoint, whereas embedded trackers inside HMDs (such as the zSight) can offer dynamic and individual viewpoints. Some exciting 3D content comes from animated features. How long before such content can be streamed and changed depending on head position? This would be excellent news for HMDs that can provide great immersion.

You can get some great 3D TVs for $2500. When will you be able to get great HMDs for $2500? Perhaps as soon as there is demand for 6 million HMDs a year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New video demo of xSight head-mounted display

The xSight HMD is difficult to experience on YouTube, but here's a movie anyway. The reason it's difficult to experience is that two of its most important attributes: field of view and weight are best experienced in person. The horizontal field of view of an xSight is 120 degrees. If you sat 8 feet from a TV and wanted that TV to provide you with 120 degrees field of view, the width of the TV needs to be about 28 feet. That's much more immersive than a front row seat in most movie theaters.

Weight is also hard to experience in a movie. The weight of the xSight is about 350 grams, so similar to a Coca Cola can. The weight of other HMDs is sometimes 1.5 kg, like a 6-pack of beer on your head. Quite a difference!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New video of zSight HMD with iMove

A new video is available showing the integration of the Sensics zSight HMD with the iMove GeoView software package. iMove allows truly spherical recording of video, which is useful for many applications such as surveillance, tourism, mission rehearsal and more. A vehicle is outfitted with a pole carrying several cameras. Video is simultaneously recorded from all cameras. iMove's software then stitches the individual video streams and prepares a file which can then be played back using a standard desktop or notebook PC. The player receives head tracking information via a simple USB interface from the zSight HMD and changes the viewing direction based on the head movements. The result is like being inside the car.

Various cool videos are available: riding in DC, sailing in a canal in Amsterdam and many others. Several companies also offer services where they can create such immersive videos for desired locations.

Since there is so much video data being recorded at once, iMove decided (at least for this recording) to record at about 8 frames per second. This is more choppy than normal video, but creates a nice balance between the amount of storage required and the smoothness of the image.

Integration is also available for the xSight which provides an even wider field of view and even higher resolution.