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.

3 comments:

Thomas said...

Now that more than half of US households have invested in a television capable of displaying HDTV, ostensibly a flat-screen of some type, I doubt that a massive wave of consumers is going to hit the stores again any time soon to plop down more earnings to upgrade to the "next great thing". (Which doesn't strike me as being that great...)

I think that head-mounted displays present a more viable alternative, because the smaller amount of material going into a pair of these goggles is quite a bit smaller than a full TV set, and it kills two birds with one stone, being the TV and the 3D glasses in one, with the added capability of adjusting the optics to suit the user's eyes.

There are numerous companies out there making some very small high-resolution display units that could be incorporated into viable products, but for some reason, the larger consumer electronics manufacturers have not gotten the message.

I think the use of HMDs for augmented reality, game play and general entertainment viewing will work its way into everyday life the way the Walkman did in the early 1980's... the benefits of a virtual image will eventually be apparent to everyone.

Thomas said...

Considering that many households have only recently finished paying for the HD set they're watching now, running out to buy a new 3D set doesn't make a lot of sense... perhaps that's why the "Year of 3D" that 2010 was supposed to be actually fizzled.

HDMs offer advantages over convential displays. Once consumers see that HDMs are...
> greener, (using less material in their manufacture)

> act as both the set and the 3D glasses

> are optimized to the wearer's vision and don't cause eye strain

> and are capable of a more immersive experience

...they should adopt them readily... as soon as they get past the geek factor.

There are numerous companies currently manufacturing high resolution, small form-factor display technology that can be incorporated into HDMs, but the large consumer electronics manufacturers are probably not liking the profit margin versus building a bigger screen. I'd love to see someone like Apple, (with their iPhone Retina Display) put out a product that can bring HDMs into the public eye. Sorry for the unintended pun....

Thomas said...

Considering that many households have only recently finished paying for the HD set they're watching now, running out to buy a new 3D set doesn't make a lot of sense... perhaps that's why the "Year of 3D" that 2010 was supposed to be actually fizzled.

HDMs offer advantages over convential displays. Once consumers see that HDMs are...
> greener, (using less material in their manufacture)

> act as both the set and the 3D glasses

> are optimized to the wearer's vision and don't cause eye strain

> and are capable of a more immersive experience

...they should adopt them readily... as soon as they get past the geek factor.

There are numerous companies currently manufacturing high resolution, small form-factor display technology that can be incorporated into HDMs, but the large consumer electronics manufacturers are probably not liking the profit margin versus building a bigger screen. I'd love to see someone like Apple, (with their iPhone Retina Display) put out a product that can bring HDMs into the public eye. Sorry for the unintended pun....