A few months ago I was coming back from a press trip with Intel in China when I had the unusual fortune of being upgraded to business class. There was a bit of a mix up with my meal and by way of compensation, Air China were kind enough to allow me to walk upstairs on an aeroplane for the first, and depressingly, possibly the last, time. What I noticed as I looked around after I settled into my wonderfully large seat was how odd everyone was. There were people walking round in bare feet, some covered with makeup, and people who just looked eccentric, probably because they could afford to be.
It’s possibly only in this kind of environment that I probably would feel quite comfortable taking out something like as quirky as Myvu’s Personal Media Viewer. This is a set of video glasses for the iPod video (30GB, 60GB, 80GB) that gives the impression of a large TV screen hovering somewhere beyond the end of your nose. I’ve seen devices such as this before to provide so called 3D gaming on the PC, and what they’ve all had in common was that were all pretty crap. Even so, when a press release popped into my inbox announcing the arrival of these in the UK iTunes store, I knew I had to give them a go. It turns out that the US has been enjoying these for about a year, but for some reason it’s taken this long to reach European shores.
As you can see the design comes straight from the Geordi LaForge school of fashion – though if you’re going to make a pair of video glasses that’s fairly inevitable. They won’t let you view see the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum, but they will let you view videos on your iPod. Each eye contains an LCD with a 320 x 240 resolution that matches the 4:3 shape of the iPod display. The LCDs are 24-bit colour and work at 50 or 60Hz, for NTSC or PAL content. It’s a shame the resolution isn’t higher – after all the iPod can output up to 640 x 480 and that’s the res of the content on the iTunes store.
MicroOptical hasn’t gone for a total immersion experience – the LCDs are in a relatively narrow strip, so by looking up and down you can see the outside world. What’s more there are small windows to each side of the LCD so you see what’s going on either side of you too. The box actually shows someone walking the street while wearing these – quite aside from the not insignificant issue of what you’d look like I have to wonder what would be so important that you have to watch it while walking.