Sony's HMZ-T1: Home theater in a headset

Sony's HMZ-T1 is a head-mounted 3D headset, to be released later this year in Japan. Two 1280x720 OLED displays, each just 7/10 of an inch across, create a virtual 750" screen. Perceived 20m from the viewer, it "corresponds to the sense of cinema as seen from a large central seat." It'll be 60,000 Yen ($785) from mid-november.

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    1. Not everyone abreacts to 3D and/or to head-mounted displays. Some, admittedly, do.

      Quality of the optics, and how well this works with glasses, is going to be a major question. Presumably the lower section of bifocals would be useless; older users might need a pair of “distance glasses” for comfort.

  1. Yeah, but will that “large central seat” be big enough for “two more to curl up in”?

  2. UGH, I can imagine in just about a year the subways of the world will be filled with tech drones watchin movies and listenin to music wearin these things everywhere. 

    then again the interior looks so 80s and the setup so clunky it might just take a few more years till they realize they need to make this way more flexible and handy.

    1. In related news, subway pickpocketing set to spike just about same the time that the subway is filled with headset-wearing drones.

  3. But hasn’t this been tried before? It doesn’t matter what it simulates, the fact is that there’s a screen an inch from your cornea.
    And that isn’t good for anyone.

    1.  yes, the display may be an inch from your eye, but the optics will make it appear to be much further away…

      My only gripe so far is that there’s no apparent means for spectacle wearers to use these…

      1. No no, I mean that there’s a light emitting source an inch from your eyeball. It doesn’t matter where the optics place your depth of field or whatever.
        There’s still a light bulb an inch from your eye.

        1. “There’s still a light bulb an inch from your eye.’

          Well, no, there is a reflective or refractive element close to your eye, with an OLED display a few inches away.

          That detail aside, I’m curious what it is about having something close to one’s eye that you object to.

  4. It really doesn’t look that clunky compared to earlier attempts at this sort of device. And the specs are starting to definitely come in line with more traditional viewing apparatuses. Sure it still makes you look like a rube with too much money, but it’s decent enough. I wouldn’t go this route but then again I’m waiting for sim-stim anyway.

  5. Simulates the view from a large central seat?
    How would this differ from the view from, say, a rickety wooden stool, centrally located?
    Does it somehow comfort your butt?

  6. “The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye.”

    Is it a refined hallucinations recorder, like in videodrome:

  7. Finaly, Cyclops will be able to fight crime and keep up with the Kardashians at the same time!

  8. @boingboing-cef73ce6eae212e5db48e62f609243e9:disqus : I’m sure there will be, since once you’ve used the thing for more than six months, you’ll be needing glasses anyway :D

    I’d rather wait for those screen-augmented contact lenses :

  9. Ugh, resurrecting crappy 90’s technology. I was hoping this did retinal projection and not just tiny screens.

    1. I was hoping this did retinal projection and not just tiny screens.

      Serious question: what’s the difference? Isn’t a screen just projecting light into your eyes?

      1. Retinal Projection uses a projector to actually draw the image on your retina like how a raster scanning crt tv paints a picture on the screen, rather than just sending the light in. The picture will appear overlayed with reality like a HUD in a video game and can be very high quality. When using small screens your eyes have to focus artificially on the picture causing fatigue. 

        The sony goggles seem like they are using some sort of magnifier so it might not be as bad as the old style glasses. But id imagine your eyes would still get pretty tired. Looking in a microscope for a few hours for example is very tiring. You have none of these problems with a retinal display projector. 

        The military has been using them for years. The tech is starting to trickle down to civilian use now. Brother have a retinal projector that they are looking at selling to businesses and its meant to launch some time this year

  10. Finally, a headset display with enough resolution you could think of using it for text.   Most of the earlier ones were TV quality at best.  (Of course, if you’re not Steve Mann, it’s not clear that walking around using gargoyle headsets is actually useful, but at least these would let you do it.)   There is still the question of whether the focus distance and potential for binocular vision mean it’ll feel like you’re reading the scrolling text from Star Wars, which would get old pretty fast, but there are enough pixels to experiment with.

  11. I have a few friends with retinitis pigmentosa, they can see, but, only very narrowly.  One friend described it as looking through two toilet paper tubes.  I have always wondered if something like this would work for them.

    Strangely enough, despite being legally blind, two of my friends with RP worked as video editors. 

  12. I wonder if I could use it…  me and my damn nystagmus eye issues.

    Never tried a 3D movie, mostly cause I’m afraid that it’ll be extra money wasted.  I’ve looked at some 3D tvs and they work alright, but I can certainly see flicker in the picture from time to time.  Maybe with enough refresh it wouldn’t be that bad.  The only real experience with any VR I’ve had was the Virtual Boy….and that was like driving an ice pick through my eye socket.

    Twitching eyes = no retinal projection … makes me sad.  Cause we will probably get that before we get a neural connection.  (And probably not either one cheap and of good quality in my life time.)

    1. “Twitching eyes = no retinal projection ”

      Depends on the projection technology. Presumably the emitters would be arranged on a spectacle-like frame so as not to block the user’s central vision. Multiple emitters at different locations on the frame would allow full-range eye movement without loss of the projected image.

      The frames also provide a stable platform registered to the users head which would allow for a large virtual display that would (necessarily) track head movements but that also allows the user to look around via eye movements to examine the display (and to take advantage of gaze-detection focus technologies).

  13. i don’t think i could wear that without saying “the future, Conan?” every single time.

  14. Very bad idea without vestibular compensation.

    The semi-circular canals and otoliths in the inner ear serve as a set of accelerometers and rate gyros providing the vestibular response (sense of balance). This is coupled with our visual  perception of motion and tracking of horizon cues in the Vestibular Optical Response (VOR). When the two senses disagree motion sickness or simulator sickness occurs. Unless the goggles incorporate inertial sensors and shift the imagery consistently with the percieved motion you are going to have a lot of severe motion sickness.

    This pretty much doomed the (technically excellent) Sony Glasstron units from the ’90s.

    1. Motion tracking has come a long way in the past decade thanks to continuing advances in solid state accelerometers. The main hurdle will be power and miniaturization. If and when quantum dot lasers become sufficiently robust for the rims of spectacles, you still have to fit a power pack into a temple arm (assuming one is already in use for the control processor and input circuit.

    2. There are no “gyros”. The image is 3d stereoscopic, but does not utilize motion tracking in any capacity. This is not a VR headset a la “lawnmower man”. Its a pair of miniaturized lcd screens creating a 3d effect coupled with some pretty good 5.1 headphones. No VOR, no motion sickness, none of that. For the price tho, it should do all that and make me dinner.

  15. I hope those subway wearers opt for the optional proximity sensor to tell when a baseball bat is headed for their skull.

    1. No, voiceinthedistance, I’m trying to tell you then when you’re ready, you won’t have to doge baseball bats.

  16. Personally, I’ve always found that I get the best movie viewing experience with a set of headphones.  Why not have similar technology for the eyes.  Sure you could spend thousands of dollars on speakers, cables, amplifiers, and then find that perfect spot within the room, or just spend $100 on headphones.  Spend $300 if you want to go real crazy.  Even cheap over the ear headphones will outperform a decent speaker system.  And you don’t have to worry about finding the sweet spot.  If the same technology existed visuals, you would bet I would get it.  Spend a few hundred bucks, and you always have the optimal size screen, with the optimal viewing angle, and no glare.  Besides, watching TV (except for sports maybe) is pretty antisocial.  You might as well be completely cut off from everyone else.   If you want something social, pull out a deck of cards or something similar.

    1. I can’t imagine any headphones beat out a decent 5.1 setup. Sure you can get 5.1 headphones but ill bet money it doesn’t equate to a good speaker setup. Also lacking bass with headphones. You get the impression of bass, but no chest thump like you get from a good subwoofer.

  17. Finally, some HMD with HD resolution. I wonder what is the biggest obstacle to getting the resolution higher.

    The competing products (such as Vuzix) don’t even match the resolution of the iPhone’s retina display… I’m sure that’s ok for video, but for text that’s lame.
    Anyways, I’m definitely excited about the HMZ-T1. I hope they are not as bulky as they look.

    Update: I’m excited by the HD resolution, but I found one worrying quote in the news reports (see below). 720p is 921,600 pixels… Can we confirm whether the resolution is actually 720p?

    > According to Yoshinori Matsumoto, from Sony’s Home Entertainment Business Group, the 0.7 inch (18mm diagonal) panels “have a resolution of 350,000 pixels and are closely related to the OLED electronic viewfinders found in the new Alpha 77 and NEX-77 cameras.” (from )

    1. The resolution problem would be due to the tiny screens which are magnified either due to artifical focus from your eyes or through some lens. The pixel density in those tiny screens is insane. Thats the limiting factor. Im amazed they can even make the pixels that tiny. If an iphone was at the same density it would have a resolution of 6400×3600.

  18. I liked Snow Crash too, but wearing that silly getup does not a Hiro Protagonist make. 

    Also, Second Life was kind of a flop.

  19. Well, I’ve been wondering when these things would finally start simulating truly BIG screens (usually they simulate the view of a 50 or 60″ screen, not really a cinema-sized one), so that’s cool. But the price is definitely too steep for me right now. Oh well, someday…

  20. “…create a virtual 750″ screen. Perceived 20m from the viewer…”  Am I the only one annoyed by the mixing of units?

  21. It looks like someone finally figured out how to make awesome video goggles. Too bad Sony is such a shady company…

  22. worth mentioning that these are an obvious evolution of the headgear sony has been churning out for 15-20 years now, they never really caught on at any point but afaik sony has always had at least one variant available.  so, with that in mind, i feel many of comment critiques here were most likely addressed in their early variants.  the people sony has building these things are far from new entrants to the market.  its just a market that nobody has ever bought in to.

  23. Brilliant – I was going to build a rig for

    but this would do perfectly. Imagine getting a feed from the Keck Telescopes (or the VLT in Chile) for this. Give you a whole new mind blowing view of the universe.

  24. Make this in 4G, 360 deg. nightvision with infrared (including other spectra) and it will really enhance my modified high speed Segway fitted with a jet pack. Link this rig to super high speed  internet and satellite communications and I can really be a menace to everyone; especially me. I’ll still need to watch out for those 1954 Buicks.

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