Reality in a virtual world

Reality is fine as far as it goes but it needs pepping up and Vuzix is determined to do that. The company makes video eyewear for viewing movies or playing games in the privacy of your own head.

LaForge.jpgvuzix vr920.jpgVuzix eyewear replaces the 3D headsets of old with normal-looking spectacles. Well, normal if you’re Geordi La Forge, the chief engineer in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Vuzix glasses contain small screens that allow the user to view videos and displays from video players such as iPods, smartphones or computers without a conventional model. The problem is that you can’t see where you’re going so you have to be in an obstacle-free room or remain stationary.

Vuzix has now added an Augmented Reality Kit that adds a CamAR video camera to the front of the VR920 Virtual Reality Video Eyewear (£260) so that the viewer can see the real world simultaneously with the recorded material, rather like a heads-up display in a modern jet fighter. In addition, a PhasAR wireless augmented reality input controller that resembles the thinking-person’s Wii controller allows interaction between the real and the virtual worlds.

Vuzix claims that the VR920 glasses gives an image that appears to be a 62in screen viewed at a distance of nine feet. The company premiered the glasses with their augmentation kit at the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC 09) in San Francisco this week.

The Vuzix AR Accessory Kit is a technology looking for a killer app at the moment. The company hints at applications such as allowing a book to be read, or a tape book to be played and augmented with 3D images to make the stories come alive. In the business world, there is the potential to sell the dream to a potential customer by superimposing your product or a room makeover in their real world environment. Using the hand control the possibilities for 3D gaming becomes mind-boggling.

Perhaps this is where Google Street View may be heading. It’s possible to envisage a future iteration of the system. As you drive along, Google images are displayed as a real world sat nav system to confirm that you are where you ought to be. By stepping the Street View images a little further ahead, you could make sure you’re in the correct lane to take the right turn ahead. No more surprises and unintended detours.

The UK price for the kit is £80 and Vuzix will be demo-ing the new kit at The Gadget Show Live at the Birmingham NEC on the 17-19th April.
Vuzix AR Kit.jpg

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