|It will go on sale June 20 for 65,000 yen (US$500).
The display is expected to be used in audio visual applications.
It can be connected to video recorders, LD players, DVD players
and video game machines.
Starting at the end of May, the display will
be available to passengers riding in the first class sections of
airplanes operated by Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL).
To differentiate the new display from conventional head-mounted
displays already on the market, Olympus is calling its device a
face-mounted display (See chart.).
Speaking at the recent product launch, Olympus President
Masatoshi Kishimoto said the monthly sales target would be 5,000
units. The company aims to achieve sales totaling 1.7-1.8 billion
yen (US$13 million) in the first business year ending March 1999.
He also revealed that after three years, the company expects
annual sales to reach 5 billion yen. At the same time the product
should become profitable. Kishimoto said the company anticipates
the vast majority of uses for the new display will be in consumer
Using the display is equivalent to viewing a 62-in. TV screen
from a distance of 2m. The display unit itself, which is worn
like a pair of eyeglasses, weighs around 110g. In addition to
this, a control unit weighing approximately 80g also is required.
When used with a special lithium ion secondary battery, which
will be sold separately (price yet to be announced), the display
can be operated for a period of around three hours.
The dimensions of the display unit are 170mm wide x 55mm deep x
50mm high, and the control unit measures 51mm wide x 128mm deep x
In July 1996, Sony Corp. launched a similar product called the
Glasstron PLM50, but production has been halted. The weight of
the Sony product, including the battery box, is about 435g.
According to Olympus, comparing the parts of the two products
actually worn by users, the weight of the Eye-Trek's display unit
(110g) is less than one-third that of Sony's product.
The display unit that has been developed for the Eye-Trek
consists of two 0.7-in. LCD panels -- one for the left eye, and
another for the right, each of which has 180,000 pixels. Also, in
order to magnify the images on the panels, its construction
includes two free-shaped prisms.
This new type of prism is an example of the technology used to
achieve the extent of miniaturization necessary to develop the
Eye-Trek. Conventional head-mounted displays employ half mirrors
and concave mirrors to achieve magnification of the image.
However, when half mirrors are used the screen becomes dark. They
also limit the extent to which the products can be miniaturized.
By contrast, with the new type of prism employed in the Eye-Trek,
the whole of the surface is constructed with a free curvature
plane, making it possible to achieve a large reduction in
thickness. Also, because half mirrors are not used, there is an
increase in the efficiency of the light used.
Some of the new technologies employed in the Eye-Trek were
derived from advances made while developing endoscopes for
medical applications, a field in which Olympus excels.
However, the product could conceivably cause users to suffer the
same kind of symptoms as those experienced in the recent widely
publicized "Pocket Monsters" case, where some people suffered
seizures as a result of watching flashing, stroboscopic images
that appeared in a children's animated cartoon on TV.
This fear is based on the fact that users of the new display are
supposed to feel as if they are watching a large screen from a
Olympus plans to include a printed warning with the displays when
they are sold. It will warn users to try and avoid viewing images
with flashing screens or movements, and will recommend restricted
use for youngsters up to the age of 15.
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(BizTech Editorial Dept. & Nikkei Mechanical)`