Virtual Reality Visors: Back In Style (Yet Again)

The consumer electronics industry, having recuperated from previous defeats (and encouraged by widespread use of bluetooth phone headsets), has renewed its efforts to make us all look like the Borg.

IGN reports that a company called eMagin is promoting a VR headset (the “Z800”) at CES. Wearing the headset is apparently like watching a 105-inch screen from 12 feet away. It also includes head-tracking… perfect for first-person games. Reviews (1, 2) that I dug up are very complimentary, but both mention problems with queasiness. One review notes that even with careful calibration, you can’t wear the headset for more than 30 minutes. Too bad; experiencing World of Warcraft in VR would have been neat, but you can’t pick your nose in WoW in under an hour.

The z800 is ugly. It’s overpriced. And I know I’m going to spill my drink and/or smash something while I’m wearing it. But I still want it. God help me.

Comparisons have already been drawn to Nintendo’s old, failed Virtual Boy console. IMO, the timing, pricing, quality, and basic nature of the two devices are so different that objective comparison is difficult. Anyway, IGN reports that Nintendo is interested in the Z800.

eMagin isn’t the only organization rethinking VR headsets — researchers in Singapore have been using them to bring Pacman to life. Hey, maybe if we all become accusomted to strapping hardware on our noggins, the Media Lab can finally get its brain wave game controllers into commercial production. *grin*

PS. If you want to look even more Borg-like, you can cover just one of your eyes for the low, low price of $600. Don’t assume that everyone will get used to it right away, though… we’re a heck of a lot more attuned to faces than we are to ears.

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