Life with Head Mounted Display [Part 5]

Dec 16, 2008
Mayuko Uno, Nikkei Electronics

Continued from Life with Head Mounted Display [Part 4].

So I tried the UP300x myself to see people's reactions.

I felt that the passenger sitting face to face with me was obviously trying not to look into my eyes all the time. And it seemed that other passengers, too, were avoiding me because I hardly saw anyone come and sit next to me.

In a packed train, I did not draw any attention. Few people seemed to have noticed that I was wearing an HMD probably because passengers could only see the person standing in front of them. Therefore, I felt comfortable in the packed train, wearing the gear.

When the display screen unit was flipped up, the HMD looked almost the same as general headphones. And no one paid attention to me.

Next, I'll explain how the screen actually looked. This time, I watched the content preinstalled for demonstration while sitting on a seat. I had to get used to focusing on the screen. At the beginning, I could not see what I wanted to see unless I tried quite hard to concentrate on it because the image on the HMD screen overlapped the actual view as if it were "merging into" the view.

No matter how much I was focusing on the screen, the image disappeared when my focus shifted to the people moving in the actual view, for example.

It was especially difficult to see the screen when the train was running through locations where I could see something that stood out, such as colorful wall paintings, the name of a station indicated on white walls and concrete seams, because my attention would be drawn to the changing background.

To the contrary, it became easier to view the screen when a man in a dark suit stood in front of me. I did not have to focus much of my attention on the screen in that case.

After using the gear for a few days, I got used to it to a certain degree and became able to focus on the screen whenever I wanted to. Once I reached that state, I felt that I could submerge myself in the video more than expected. Nevertheless, I could recognize when to get on and off the train because I could still see the motion of the people around me. Fortunately, I never missed my stop.

When the UP300x is examined in our news room, some of my colleagues said that it is not easy to read the characters displayed on the screen without focusing their attention quite hard. However, we could not evaluate the text visibility this time because there was no preinstalled video that contained small characters other than the warning message that shows up when the UP300x is being booted. I had little trouble reading the tickers that would appear on the screen.

What I did find particularly inconvenient while I was using the gear on the train was its battery life. It takes alkaline batteries, a Li-ion secondary battery module or a Ni-hydride secondary battery module. And it is required to specify which battery to use in the setting screen. Nikon is planning to include Sanyo Electric Co Ltd's "eneloop" in the actual product package.

I used alkaline batteries this time, but they ran out quickly. The HMD ran for slightly more than one hour when I viewed the preinstalled sample video.