I was able to get a private demo with Sensics in their meeting room to try their SmartGoggles, and I have to say, I am really wowed!
For anyone looking for a basic primer, a link to the existing SmartGoggles thread: viewtopic.php?f=120&t=14141
Specs are at the bottom of this post, for ease of reference.
First thing you notice when picking this thing up: It is HEAVY. Really heavy for a consumer HMD, I would guess somewhere between 2.5 and 3lbs, though that can definitely be cut down from this prototype (For example, the lens holders are made of relatively thick metal tubes that could just as well be plastic). The weight is pretty well balanced, though: Cameras, motion sensing, and displays/optics up front, and Android based chipset/batteries in the back.
Comfort wise, I was pretty happy. It used pretty soft foam rubber that comfortably molded to your head, and the earcups also fit well. It did have a tendency to slide down on my face after moving around a bit, but that can be chalked up to the slight and fixable front heaviness I mentioned earlier. The high weight, combined with how far away from the rotational center of your neck it was, resulted in some pretty heavy inertial dampening when you turn your head quickly; That is, it slowed down the movement quite a bit, and sometimes felt like the headset was playing catch-up with the movement of your head.
Hand tracking: Unfortunately, the software they were showing did not support hand tracking, but I did find out quite a bit, even got a look at the guts of the helmet and tracking system. The 10 outer cameras are all for hand tracking, and they provide a tracking area that is roughly 150 horizontal by 90 vertical FOV, only the center camera is used for vision/AR. No stereo cameras.
One nice thing is that porting Kinect games to this system is relatively easy; In fact, the demo they were showing was ported from a Kinect game in only 3 weeks by a single programmer! Pretty impressive on paper, I will have to try it again sometime when they have hand tracking working.
Graphical power: All the hands on articles in the blogosphere have mentioned this, but to say it again: Yes, the graphics were really bad, below Wii level. However, that is a result of the game that was being ported, and not a good representation of the graphical prowess! Take a look at mobile games like Infinity Blade or Nova, both of which run on hardware that is similar to the SmartGoggles. As such, I am not too worried about the power of the unit.
Inputs: Has a MicroHDMI port. Not much more to say about it, except to remind people that this is fully compatible with PCs. No reason to complain about the onboard Android, it is a minor, minor cost compared to the rest of the components! There was no kind of strain relief on the helmet for an HDMI cable, I suggested they add some kind of clip, something they said they would take into consideration.
Displays: The resolution was really good, you could not see the pixel structure at all... Partly because they were using a diffusion layer over the Emagin OLED XL panels. It seemed like a pretty aggressive filter, personally, and I felt the sharpness of the image suffered as a result. Colors were good overall, better than most consumer HMDs, but fell far short of the HMZ-T1. At least some of this is because of the diffusion layer, because the same Emagin panels looked much better in the Sensics Z-Sight.
Optics: Somewhat disappointing, but they are a work in progress. There was significant distortion, no IPD adjustment, and no diopter adjustment. Luckily, the exit pupil was pretty large, so lack of IPD adjustment was not much of a problem (for me), and I did not feel like I was looking through a pinhole. The 64 degree FOV is far better than most consumer HMDs, and was at the point where I was could forget the outside world once I was playing. It lacked the "wow factor" that you get with wide FOV HMDs, but it was past the point of being acceptable, to where the average person will not go "This is it?!", a common occurrence with stuff in the 30-40 degree range.
Going to give the optics a B- overall.
Overall, I was really impressed! Yeah, there were a lot of little snags, but they are all things that will be worked out before commercialization. I would love to have one of these as a finished unit!
I am sure there is stuff I missed, but I am just trying to get out this backlog of CES stuff. I will upload some more pictures when I can, I got caught at work for these past few days (In fact, I am sleeping at the lab tonight so we can get back to work early in the morning), so I apologize for the tardiness.
Ask any questions that come to mind!SmartGoggles inside. Includes the full power of the SmartGoggles architecture.
On-board 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with graphics and 3D co-processor running Android 4.0 allows execution of on-board applications without requiring connection to a PC or a gaming console.
First-person hand tracking provides real-time tracking and location information of the user’s hands. Hand position can be used to drive user interface, identify gestures and interact with the game.
High-end virtual reality goggles including:
True 3D display
360 degree use
Embedded head tracker for head angular position and linear acceleration
Dual SXGA (1280×1024) OLED displays. Also supporting 720p
64 degree field of view for excellent immersion
Embedded stereo audio and microphone
On-board WiFi and Bluetooth services.
LibSensics API providing application developers full access to the goggle capabilities.