For all the hype that was originally behind virtual reality and for how decent the technology actually works, it hasn’t taken off the way some people expected. Many factors are to blame there but part of the equation is that nobody wants to wear big goggles for hours at a time. Panasonic’s new VR eyeglasses are looking to change that.
Instead of being a hulking headset that straps to your skull, Panasonic’s design fits into a compact form-factor that resembles a pair of glasses. Along with shrinking the package down to something that’s more comfortable to wear, Panasonic teamed up with a VR display company called Kopin to develop a new ultra-high-definition micro-OLED panel. This should eliminate the “screen door effect” that can make it feel like you’re looking through a window screen when a VR system has pixels that are too large and too close to your face—another issue with today’s VR goggles.
With a more compact design and a tighter pixel density, Panasonic is looking square in the eyes of the major shortcomings that plague existing VR products. The company’s new VR glasses are also an industry-first to support high dynamic range (HDR) content and they’re equipped with technologies borrowed from Panasonic’s other product lines. The earbuds have acoustics lifted from the company’s Technics audio gear, while optical technologies from Panasonic’s LUMIX digital cameras are also packed in.
So far, the larger VR goggles have seen some success among gaming enthusiasts and early adopters, but companies are beginning to look ahead at new services that cater to sports buffs, folks who are interested in virtual travel experiences and so on. Panasonic is hoping to meet that demand with its new VR glasses and the company specifically mentions that it anticipates greater adoption of VR with the roll-out of 5G. Does that mean these things will have a 5G modem built in? We’re not sure.
We’re also not sure when they’ll reach store shelves or how much you can expect to pay for them. What we can say is that they look a hell of a lot more comfortable than any other VR systems to date, they should make for a more immersive experience and less fatigue, and you’ll look like a steampunk character when you have them on. Now we just need software that makes better use of what VR can do.