One Step Closer To Wearable Displays

from the where-can-I-sign-up? dept

People have been talking about display technology embedded in a pair of glasses for years, and it's looking like they may not be that far away. Microdisplay companies are doing good business building mini-screens for digital cameras and mobile phones, but the idea of wearable heads-up displays is where they expect the big money to come from. They're already being used in military and medical environments, but they're moving one step down the latter to industrial uses as well. From there, it's not that much farther to go for more general purposes. Right now, most of the heads-up displays are still bulky and ugly (though, not nearly as bulky as they were a few years ago), but the companies clearly realize where this is headed, and are working hard to make glasses with embedded displays that are both functional and "cool" looking. Combined with a phone or a personal mobile gateway device, and you could have full internet access all the time. As someone in the article points out, at that point, what we use internet access for may change in completely unexpected ways.

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  • identicon
    bbay, 7 May 2004 @ 4:47pm


    I've been into wearables for many years. Mostly as an observer because of the lack of a suitable display. I even went as far as to buy a Toshiba Libretto and a NetWinder as potential wearable devices. (Note: Yes, I bought a NetWinder. Yes, this fact speaks poorly to my judgment.)

    I owned an M1 display for a short time. I was unhappy with the resolution (320x240 monochrome), the visibility (poor) and the form factor (awkward and guaranteed to frighten children and small animals).

    For a display to be useful, it must at the very least, be VGA resolution and unobstrusive. Anything less than VGA and you can't comfortably view 80 columns of text. And if you want to do anything as ambitious as run a graphical program such as a browser you need SVGA. Otherwise, the necessary scrolling back and forth becomes an unacceptable burden, especially in an always on, wearable context where your pointing devices is invariably unweildy.

    If there existed a suitable (consumer priced) display device, I would be wearing a computer right now. This vacuum has exist for almost 10 years without being filled. Partly because all the existing products have been either crappy or expensive. The strategy so far seems to be to create a useless low resolution display for the right price and sell enough to prove the market exists and then create the next generation display. No company has gotten past the first step because the low resolution display is just a novelty, it doesn't create the kind of sea-change that a useful wearable display would create in how people use computers.

    As the article says, it may finally happen. (Of course, this isn't the first time this has been said.) My favorite up-and-coming display is the EyeTap because its ingenious configuration incorporates a camera that is aligned with the display, facilitating some of the most interesting potential uses of a wearable computing, such as Augmented Reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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