We’ve all see video glasses before – those clunky, Geordi La Forge-looking things that promise to display a 10 foot screen in front of your face. The drawbacks, generally, are size and transparency. Lumus, however, has solved those problems and is working on bringing a pair of see-through, HD video glasses to market that look more Minority Report than 1990s Star Trek.
I talked to these guys in September 2010 and the technology has improved immensely since then. They’re basically offering a pair of light, wearable glasses that will show HD video in front of your eyes and even allow you to interact with the world via augmented reality.
Basically, Lumus has embedded a pair of light pumps into the earpieces that send and refract light down the lens. This moves the electronics away from the eyes, offering a lighter and more stream-lined experience. The lenses are completely transparent (and can be tuned for folks with vision problems) and when enabled the glasses display a crystal clear, 87-inch screen about ten feet away from you. The displays themselves are 1280 x 720 pixels and Lumus has created iPhone-compatible adapters that can display HD video right through the pumps and into the lenses.
The display is stunning. Because each eye display works independently, you can view 3D video in 720p (1080p is on its way) and the clarity is amazing. When you turn them off, the picture disappears completely, leaving perfectly clear lenses. Unlike the Moto ROKR MP3 sunglasses that they used to sell back in the day, the styling and size makes you look less like Dog the Bounty Hunter and more like a Bond villain.
Although these guys will be showing their gear at CES, they’re going the OEM route and are currently looking for partners to use the technology in AR displays, video games, and media players. There won’t be any Lumus-branded “They Live” style super glasses any time soon, although they do have some major players interested in the technology.
Generally, the future of this sort of display is a “Not If But When” problem. At some point wearable displays like this will replace hand-held screens. However, it will take a few years of trial and error to hit the right device at the right time. Lumus is hard at work at military and commercial systems for logistics and battlefield feedback but I’m most excited about the prospect of wearing these on a plane instead of staring at an iPad or laptop.