Monday, January 23, 2012

CES and the promise of falling micro-display prices

One of our takeaway from the recent Consumer Electronics Show was that micro-display prices will be dropping nicely in 2012, which is good news for anyone clamoring for high-quality HMDs at lower costs. As I wrote previously, the cost of micro-displays has a big impact on the final cost of HMDs, so a substantial reduction if costs can allow companies to reduce prices on HMDs in the hope of reaching a broader market.

At CES, both on and off the show floor we saw evidence of micro-display prices coming down, both with new companies offering micro-display solutions, existing companies presenting 720p or higher solutions at affordable costs, or very large companies professing their ability to use large-screen technology to create economical micro-displays.

I believe all of these trends would also create downward price pressure on the established micro-display providers like Kopin/4DD and eMagin, unless they want to focus on higher-end military-type solutions.

At the same time, companies like Sensics are going beyond the traditional "an HMD is a microdisplay plus a lens" paradigm to offer smarter goggles and extra features. This combination of reduced component costs and valuable capabilities should make for a fascinating 2012.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mindless goggles not going away anytime soon

A reader writes:

You mentioned that goggles of the past were mindless monitors. 

I would love mindless goggles provided that they had head tracking and a decent resolution and viewing angle, a bit like those uber expensive sensics ones. :-)

Will you one day release such a product? I am talking flight sim, racing sim, first person shooters. Sony seems to be the only one with something close at the moment but the field of view does not cover the full 180 degrees. If it did, the resultion would need to improve a lot."

Thank you for the input.

I think mindless goggles are not going away anytime soon, just like flip phones are still around (though their primary market these days are young kids and senior adults). Mindless goggles will most likely continue to be cheaper and offer somewhat of a limited experience. A starter kit, before you upgrade to SmartGoggles?

For one thing, SmartGoggles are not fully commercialized quite yet. Based on the wave of enthusiasm and support, I am sure they will be quite soon.

My company is happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as SONY, and we are glad to be impacting the discussion. Imagine how cool it would be if SONY decided to license SmartGoggles technology and make their media viewer a smart goggle - one with full head and hand tracking, wider field of view, higher resolution, untethered, and an Android processor on board. You could immerse yourself in PlayStation games, or even play them in a limitless and omni-directional tracking area. Or, you could connect to a SONY tablet or XPERIA or VITA and add intelligence, immersion and 3D to all the nice features that already exist on these devices.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One of my favorite CES exhibits

Back from CES, where my company launched the SmartGoggles to substantial press, partner and customer excitement (see the verge, for instance)

One of my favorite exhibits at CES was the Smart Window by Samsung. It is a large transparent window that allows graphical overlays on top of the see-through pane.

Historically, see-through technology has been pretty much limited to heads-up displays and see-through goggles, all of which are fairly small in size. The Smart Window makes see-through panels that are much larger. If you couple this with some ability to modulate the intensity of light coming through the window (e.g. electronic shades), you can truly see the window of the future.

The micro/macro comparison in displays is interesting. For instance, there is a lot of effort on behalf of large companies to create ever-larger high-definition OLED televisions (Samsung and LG both introduced stunning 55" OLED TVs at the show), but all that innovation has not yet made it into micro-displays. Other than SONY, perhaps the really big companies are not yet convinced there is a very large market for OLED micro-displays. Such commitments would help drive down the cost for micro-displays, and make high-performance goggles substantially more affordable.