Life with Head Mounted Display [Part 7]

Dec 18, 2008
Mayuko Uno, Nikkei Electronics

Continued from Life with Head Mounted Display [Part 6].

Finally, I will sum up my impressions of the UP300x based on my experience of using it as a video player that can be used while doing other things.

I felt the UP300x has no problem concerning "image viewability" and "anachorism (the fact that it might look strange to other people)," two factors that are of concern when using an HMD. The VGA resolution display looks better than a QVGA resolution display. And it is a high enough resolution to enjoy short videos even though the display is monocular.

Also, the UP300x is not a high-profile product as its external appearance is similar to that of a typical pair of headphones. I do not think it will cause any problems even on the train or in other public places unless the user disturbs other people by listening at full volume or laughing out loud.

However, I felt that there is a limit to the situations where I could really watch video while doing other things even though I can use both hands freely. One of the reasons is that the sense of immersion in the video is quite high. I could understand my surroundings to a certain extent because the UP300x allows me to see the actual landscape in the background.

However, when I concentrated on the content of the video, I unexpectedly lost the actual landscape. To put it another way, it is quite difficult to do other things when focusing on the content.

In my case, I can do other things while watching video, if it is a regular information program in Japanese, because I do not need to pay so much attention to it. But I could not do other things when I was watching an information program in English, which I cannot quickly understand the content without focusing my attention to both audio and visual information. When I focused on something else, I could no longer understand the content of the program very well.

As far as I could determine from the preinstalled content, the UP300x can be used as a player that allows users to do other things while viewing video only if the user can understand the content without concentrating on it or the content is related to what the user is doing.

Another thing that made it difficult to view video while doing other things was the aforementioned unsteady position of the HMD. If the user is watching video while moving, the display position moves, making it impossible to view the image. If Nikon expects that the user watches video while making any kind of movement, it needs to come up with some sort of a solution, I suppose.

Considering that the UP300x features a set of headphones, it also seems difficult to do something that requires the user to hear external sound. In the UP300x' catalog, I saw a photo, in which a user wears the device while playing an instrument, but I believe it must be difficult to directly hear the sound of acoustic instruments.

When people watch video while doing other things, like "watching TV while having a conversation," they often use their ears. Personally, I thought it would be great if the UB300x allowed the user to switch modes so that they can choose to hear external sounds or not.