CES is the time of year where companies big and small flock to Las Vegas to show off their latest technological marvels, and Panasonic have unveiled some VR glasses that could revolutionise how we can immerse ourselves in virtual reality. They’ll also go really well with your steampunk costumes for Halloween.
These are pure prototype territory, a “reference product” but one that shows a remarkable step forward over current VR headsets. Instead of a bulky single unit that’s akin to goggles, these are designed like glasses with an independent unit for each eye. They look tiny compared to PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and incredibly cool.
Further to this, Panasonic says that these individual modules eliminate the “screen door effect” with UHD resolution (likely 3820×2160 divided between the two eyes) and micro OLED panels that have HDR colours, which would be a first in VR.
The Verge went face-on with the glasses, noting some limitations to the current prototype hardware. The micro OLED displays were a bit too micro for their own good, leading to a squared image and smaller field of view compared to other VR headsets. That’s something that Panasonic can certainly fine tune and evolve over time. The glasses also aren’t secured behind your head by a strap, so even though they’re smaller and lighter, they can move around and shift focus as move your head. That will be helped once the working models use a USB-C cable through one of the arms to connect to the computer instead of plugging directly into the modules.
Sadly these aren’t destined for your gaming PC, but rather for commercial applications, as Panasonic and countless other Japanese companies hope to promote the country’s technological might in the run up to the Tokyo Olympic Games and the roll out of 5G mobile networks through the country. VR sports and travel is a big talking point for them.
Either way, it’s a great looking prototype and one that should excite early adopters of VR technology. VR has evolved a great deal since its consumer debut in 2016. HTC has repeatedly iterated upon and improved their Vive headset with eye-tracking and new forms, Oculus have cut the cord with the compelling standalone Oculus Quest, and Valve have recently stepped up with the Index headset and innovative new finger-tracking controllers. Meanwhile Sony’s PlayStation VR is the market leader, with the console connected headset having passed the milestone of 5 million units sold. Rumours are abound of Sony’s plans for the next generation of console, with the PlayStation 5 sure to lead to a dramatic leap forward in image quality and a second generation of PSVR sure to leverage that.