Eventually yr’s CES, Panasonic unveiled a prototype of a reasonably glossy pair of VR glasses. Just a few journalists acquired an opportunity to attempt the prototype then, noting that they have been extra akin to a ‘VR viewer’ since they lacked room-scale monitoring and was primarily used for watching immersive video while tethered to a PC. At this yr’s all-digital CES 2021, Panasonic confirmed off a brand new and improved model of the system, which packs in some fairly intriguing specs alongside the brand new addition of optical 6DOF monitoring.
Japanese publication AVWatch acquired an opportunity to go hands-on with the brand new headset at an invite-only reveal concurrently held in Japan—one thing that wasn’t potential at CES as a result of ongoing pandemic.
Though there’s no onboard computing or energy—it connects to both 5G Android smartphones or PCs by way of a USB-C cable—it seems Panasonic is actively fleshing out the glossy little headset’s specs to attraction to customers in search of a light-weight tethered choice. It’s additionally stated to work with SteamVR, which suggests customers might hypothetically play video games and join by way of social VR platforms like Rec Room or Bigscreen.Picture courtesy AVWatch
As for specs, final yr’s prototype boasted extremely excessive definition (UHD) decision, which suggests it was doubtless a complete of 4K decision cut up between two shows. AVWatch notes that this yr’s mannequin options twin 2,560 × 2,560 micro OLEDs with a pixel density 2,245ppi.
The micro OLED panels, which have been developed in collaboration with Panasonic and Kopin, are stated to assist 120Hz in addition to HDR. Very like Pico’s G3 prototype, which hasn’t been launched but, Panasonic’s aptly names ‘VR Glasses’ additionally characteristic pancake optics, which cut back the general bulk and weight of the system.
Past its fundamental performance, there have been a couple of issues about final yr’s prototype, particularly its inherently front-heavy design, which made it significantly straightforward to slide off the nostril. AVWatch notes that this yr’s mannequin has higher weight distribution by each strengthening the system’s arms and bettering the form of the fins to higher grip to the person’s head.Picture courtesy AVWatch
Audio is one other space of enchancment for the prototype, which now options built-in audio constructed by Panasonics’ subsidiary Technics as an alternative of the earlier design’s dangling earbuds. Panasonic didn’t touch upon the precise implementation, nonetheless it sounds similar to the best way Oculus supplies onboard audio in Oculus Quest and Oculus Go.
The VR glasses additionally embrace each IPD (interpupilary distance) adjustment and a diopter adjustment mechanism to accommodate near-sighted customers—necessary options to have for such a close-fitting VR headset.Picture courtesy AVWatch
There’s nonetheless no clear value or launch date in sight. Granted, it’s laborious to say whether or not VR headsets essentially must ship out to customers so shortly although. Microdisplays and pancake optics have a tendency to offer decrease area of view (FOV) than devoted PC VR headsets or standalone units like Oculus Quest 2, which usually vary at or above 100 levels. This yr’s mannequin nonetheless doesn’t have a verified FOV spec, but when it’s something like final yr’s it’ll doubtless be someplace across the estimated 70 levels.
Nonetheless, Panasonic’s VR Glasses are an incredible peek at what the close to future might convey. Economies of scale might at some point cut back the price of excessive decision microdisplays and customized pancake VR lenses, making a tiny pair of 6DOF specs an inexpensive and cheerful choice amongst a rising sea of VR tech.
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