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The iWear AV920 is almost there. Almost, but not quite.
Undoing, oh, about a million gajillion years of human evolution (we could be off by a few gajillion) is not going to be easy no matter who you are, but Vuzix, the makers of the iWear AV920 glasses, are trying. Vuzix has given us twin high-res LCDs mounted in a 2.9-ounce visor that serve up the equivalent of a 62-inch display on a 0.31-inch eyeglass screen about, oh, 2.5 inches from your retinas. The product’s development could have been driven by the modern desire to miniaturize everything or the unending need to extend the functionality of small-format video viewers à la the iPod, but it’s really anyone’s guess.
While the very existence of these glasses largely seems like answering a question that no one’s asked (“Man, this movie’s great. Now if I could only watch it, um, alone. So as not to disturb anyone standing closer than 2.5 inches away from me.”), we chose to ignore the why of it and instead directly address the how well of it. To do so, we loaded up our recently purchased iPod with the choicest of choice music videos by Grinderman, the Bad Brains, and Kanye West and proceeded to make the world go away.
After figuring out that it’s a complete nonstarter without a fully charged battery, we loaded up the glasses and proceeded to watch away. In the time between charging and viewing, we noted the manual’s warning against using said glasses on balconies or near stairs or “other things that can be tripped over, run into, knocked down, or fallen over.” And we read with special interest the portion that noted, “Immersive video…can potentially have adverse effects on the user, including motion sickness, perceptual after effects and disorientation, and decreased postural stability and eye strain.” Nice. Some people pay lots of money for those feelings.
Forewarned and now fully charged, we plugged in the glasses, leaned back, and discovered that the warnings were dead-on. The temptation to treat the glasses like, well, glasses means that while we were watching, we made no attempt to stabilize our bodies. While we guess that leaning back, sitting up, and tilting our head could have been the reason for the rising feelings of nausea and dizziness that accompanied viewing, these activities fully fall under the purview of normal viewing activities and should not be a call for pharmaceutical assistance. But they were indeed. Factor in that these glasses are also recommended for gaming, and you have a perfect storm of vertigo. So we switched to Plan B: Keeping the body as still as possible while lying in bed. This marked a noticeable improvement, and the 640-by-480 video was as clear and enjoyably watched as it would be under any circumstance. So, success, of sorts. All for $350. A pricey toy.
The bottom line. At some point we’ll be able to jack right into our optical nerves and have Hollywood imprint stuff right on our brains. But until then, this viewing experience roils your innards, shivers your timbers, and causes seasickness, making it hard to justify at the present price point. Fundamentally, it’s kind of a cool idea, though.
REQUIREMENTS: iPod or any device with video-out (from game consoles to mobile phones), eyes
Keeps your viewing very, very private.
Expensive. Makes you dizzy. Just like drugs.