Life with Head Mounted Display [Part 1]

Dec 11, 2008
Mayuko Uno, Nikkei Electronics

Nikon Corp announced the "UP300x" and "UP300" portable media players equipped with headphones and a monocular HMD (head-mounted display) Oct 7, 2008 (See related article).

They incorporate a 0.44-inch VGA (640 x 480 pixels) resolution transmissive LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) display. The main unit, which almost looks like typical headphones, houses an audio-visual player, the controls, built-in memory for data storage, a battery module, a wireless LAN module and an antenna.

There are no wires running from the main unit for connection with other devices. As they leave both hands free, users can play and enjoy audio-visual files anywhere and anytime, while doing other things, Nikon said.

The products' most distinctive feature is the HMD. Looking at the appearance of the UP300x equipped with a monocular HMD, I guess people of my generation cannot help feeling that "That's what I've been waiting for!"

Speaking of monocular HMDs, I think of the "Scouter," which appeared in "Dragon Ball" comics and anime in my childhood, first. It's a piece of equipment that would display combat capability and other information on the person it is focused on. Many times I would pretend to be wearing a Scouter in conversation with my friends.

Thus far, several types of HMDs have been released for consumer use, but none of them have gained much traction. In addition, most of the previous products highlighted their ability to have users "enjoy viewing a large screen even in a small space." Compared with its predecessors, the UP300 products look groundbreaking because Nikon emphasizes the product's capability to enable users to view video while doing other things.

The Scouter in Dragon Ball, which overlays information over a view of one's surroundings, was a tool that users always wore and "used while doing other things." On the other hand, the UP300x is nothing but an audio-visual player and, of course, cannot display the opponent's battle capability. Yet, it still gives me an impression that it is relatively close to the Scouter in the way they are used.

Having heard Nikon was lending their prototypes to the press, I immediately borrowed the upper model "UP300x." Can it really enable users to "view video while doing other things?" I summarized how I felt when I actually tried it.