•News Center
 •This Week
 •From US
 •Register Now
 •About Us
 •Advertising Info
 •Nikkei BP Group

Advanced Search

(Japanese Site)

  • Olympus Unveils Lightweight Eyeglass Display
  • April 20, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. unveiled the Eye-Trek FMD011F head-mounted display, which is worn like a pair of eyeglasses and weighs just 110g.
    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 applications.

    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 33mm high.

    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 close distance.

    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.

    Chart: Eye-Trek FMD011F

    (return to news)

    (BizTech Editorial Dept. & Nikkei Mechanical)`

    Copyright © 1997-98
    Nikkei BP BizTech, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved.
    Updated: Sun Apr 19 15:58:05 1998