Google isn't the only company interested in producing wearable head-mounted displays for everyday use. Olympus has announced its latest wearable prototype called the MEG4.0, a device that clips on to standard eyeglasses and projects a 320-by-240 QVGA display right in front of your eyes. Olympus' announcement comes about a week after the search giant showed off its Google Glass project during the company's Google I/O developer conference.
The MEG4.0 features an accelerometer, as well as Bluetooth 2.1 for connecting to smartphones and other devices. Olympus also says its wearable display features a special optical system that allows you to view information on the display without obstructing your ability to see what's around you. Olympus also claims the device has a maximum battery life of about 8 hours in intermittent display mode where the device provides information for 15 seconds every three minutes.
MEG4.0 isn't a commercially available product, so it's not clear how much a device like this would cost. Google was selling an early version of Glass for $1,500 at its developers’ conference.
Unlike Google, Olympus doesn't appear to have any idea what to do with its wearable display technology. Google envisions Glass as one part camera for snapping photos, and one part heads-up display providing information about your surroundings or stats such as your speed when biking.
Olympus, on the other hand, appears to be developing its prototype and hoping to partner with another company to create an actual product. Olympus did not mention whether MEG4.0 includes a camera. The company has been working on head-mounted displays for several years.
Many other companies are also working on head-mounted display technology. However, most competing concepts don't have the same application to everyday life like Glass or MEG4.0 do. Apple was recently granted a patent for a head-mounted display. The patent covers technology for “projecting a source image in a head-mounted display” that would create an “enhanced viewing experience” for the user.
Canon announced in June an augmented-reality platform using head-mounted displays. Sensics was showing off its SmartGoggles 3D gaming headset in January, and Sony announced a head-mounted 3D visor for movie viewing last August. Other companies such as Microvision have also been talking up head-mounted displays since at least 2000.
With all this interest in head-mounted display technology it makes you wonder if the next patent war won't be over the smartphone you carry in your pocket, but a computer device hanging off the end of your nose.