Our human interface with reality

I can’t wait for VR headsets to continue to evolve. We have “gamers” to thank for many things: they drove the development of fast high-resolution graphics boards and more recently virtual reality headsets.

Back in 1999, I had a technology dream of “Magic Spectacles”:

“A personal head-mounted display which projects a large High Definition and wide-angled image in the wearers view.
– Spectacle sized.
– Adjustable transparency or semi transparent.
– Image stabilised in space.
– Could be stabilised in relation to a small hand-held device, such as a smart phone.
– As you rotate your head, the image scrolls across the field of view to emulate a large display.

– Equivalent to a physically huge high-resolution display, but in a very small space.
– Read a broadsheet newspaper in a crowded commuter train, with privacy!
– High effective display size and resolution possible, within small-sized hardware.
– Integrate personalised corrective optics to suit individual’s eyes.
– Low cost, power, size, weight.
– Our own favourite display wherever we go.

October 20, 1999″

Today my Magic Spectacles are still a dream. Visual reality surrounds us but our conventional display devices offer either a narrow window, or a wider but more blurred view.

The old broadsheet newspapers were well optimised display devices. Their gradual replacement by smaller tabloid sized newspapers was a result of increased crowding and the need to be able to read and turn pages while sitting on a crowded bus or commuter train. The original format was good, the reader could quickly shift their gaze and attention across the extended page and between adjacent pages, by rotating their head and eyes. Just imagine having that same freedom while sitting or standing in a confined space, and not having to manually fumble with the pages.

But I have hope. I keep a watch on progress in VR headsets (Oculus RiftSteamVR, and now the Microsoft Hololens), hoping that one day the evolving technology will result in my lightweight compact “magic spectacles”. My dream is that high volume consumer demand for VR games and Hololens type applications will relentlessly drive progress towards my goal.

Richard Epworth

See also: 25 Years before Google Glass