July 7, 2012
Olympus Announces Wearable Display Prototype
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
First, Google announced them. Then, it was discovered that Apple submitted a patent for them. Now, Japanese electronics maker Olympus has announced that they have also developed a prototype.
Dubbed the MEG4.0, Olympus´ prototype is essentially a pair of non-prescription eyeglasses with a heads-up display which can be paired via bluetooth to interface with smartphones and tablets. Olympus says these prototype specs use their "proprietary optical technology” to “ensure the visibility of both the display and the outside world.” The MEG4.0 prototype also makes use of a built-in accelerometer to sense how the wearer is holding their head. The Olympus presser says this kind of functionality can be applied to a wide range of applications.
It´s worth noting that Google´s outrageously priced and not-yet available Glass makes use of a built-in camera. Though Olympus has a well-known and recognized camera division, these glasses-of-the-future won´t include any optics, acting only as a display. (For the record, the recent Apple patent only makes mention of a display as well, with no camera option.)
As it stands, the MEG4.0 prototypes boasts a QVGA display and can squeeze out 8 hours of battery life if used “intermittently,” which Olympus defines as switching the display on every 3 minutes for about 15 seconds. If you want to lean back and experience the wonders of The Terminator just inches from your eyeballs, the MEG4.0 should be up to the challenge, but not much more. When used continuously, these teched-out specs will only last for about 2 hours.
The timing of this announcement is certainly peculiar. This isn´t the first time Olympus has tried to build out a head-mounted display. Back in 2005, Olympus introduced a prototype far-less capable than their recent offering. Called the HMD (for Head Mounted Display, of course), this bulky device was meant to be worn at all times without impairing vision. Rather than acting as a display, the HMD simply popped up basic and simple information, such as the current time, the arrival of a train or to alert the user of a new, incoming email.
As a brief refresher, Google´s Project Glass makes use of augmented reality, displaying directions and maps as well as allowing video chats and the ability to snap a picture.
Announced a few days after April 1, many thought Google´s Project Glass was a late April Fool´s joke. These glasses once again made headlines at the 2012 Google I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco as sky divers, adorned with these glasses, jumped from a helicopter high above Moscone West and landed on the roof. The glasses were then passed off to “extreme bikers” who performed some tricks and jumped to another building. The glasses were passed off again to some repellers who ran down the side of the building. Passed off again, the glasses made their way to more bikers who cycled their way to the stage, ending in front of a cheering, ecstatic audience.
The Glasses´ role in this stunt? Merely a ride-along camera.