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CES 2009, Part 1: Vuzix, 3D Discussion Panel

By Neil Schneider

Part one of three from CES!
  • Vuzix
  • 3D Panel Discussion

    Vuzix



    Perhaps most famous for their VR920 head mounted display, they are anticipating an April release for their Vuzix Wrap 920AV.


    Paul Travers, President of Vuzix (left) and Neil Schneider,
    President & CEO of MTBS (right)

    MTBS does not do official hardware reviews, but we will say that it is a comfortable experience on the nose, and does have an appealing design. According to Paul Travers, President of Vuzix, it will continue to have 640X480 resolution and head tracking.

    However, the reason MTBS thinks this unit is particularly newsworthy is because its benefits go beyond stereoscopic 3D gaming and movies. Vuzix has developed an interface that connects with IPhone and lets wearers use their HMD as a portable GPS. We were not able to try this out at the show, but the glasses are designed in a way that lets you see through them and have a digital S-3D overlay at the same time. Very interesting to say the least!

    The Vuzix experience is also designed to be a customized experience. If you wear glasses, you can have your prescription sent to Vuzix, and they will have special add-on lenses made for the HMD which can be swapped in and out.

    The remaining question is whether or not the look will be appealing to wear both regularly and publicly – and we will leave that up to the taste of end users.


    3D Discussion Panel

    I attended a special discussion panel with the following individuals:

  • Doug Darrow, Brand Marketing Manager for DLP Products, Texas Instruments
  • Nichoolas Rauthier, President & CEO of Sensio Technologies
  • David Naranjo, Director of Product Development for Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc.
  • Chris Chinnock, President of Insight Media
  • Neil Wittering, International Strategic Business

    While Marketsaw did a great job of taping the event, and while I have great respect for my esteemed colleagues on the panel, it wasn’t "must listen" material. I think there was too big a disconnect between what customers want and what was being displayed on the show floor at CES compared to what this panel was pushing. So much so, I chose to not ask questions to avoid embarrassment and awkwardness.

    However, there is one sentiment that I do feel obligated to bring forward, and that is the topic of "standards". Nicholas Routhier is the President & CEO of Sensio, a leading company that has developed a codec for transmitting stereoscopic 3D video. Every session he speaks at, he talks about avoiding a "standards war" which his colleagues support.

    Before I comment further on this, let me share with you an experience I had in Vegas on the way home. Pam and I were going from casino to casino to cover CES, attend meetings, and take in the sights. Unlike last year, every casino had people stopping us to give free shows. "Are you staying a few hours" and "before you go, I have a question", etc. etc. Pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing!

    When it was time to leave for home, I asked our baggage handler this question: "We noticed this trend where every casino we go to, sales people work hard to give us free shows. Is this new?"

    This was his answer:

    "The casinos are trying to come up with ways to keep people in the casinos. Our industry works in quarters, and this has been the worst quarter ever. If this trend continues, in two years Las Vegas will be a ghost town. This is an industry expectation, I’m not making this up."

    It was difficult to believe, and yet we just learned that Circuit City is closing all their stores.

    Aside from being much more crowded, last CES marked the end of the Blu-Ray HD-DVD war. Blu-Ray won and Blu-Ray is THE standard that is used in all DVDs and media. Sure, some parties got canceled and entire product lines had to be reworked, but as an industry, we have a working media solution.

    In these difficult economic times when 3D HDTVs are on store shelves without a purpose other than gaming, I have to ask if avoiding the "standards war" is a war in itself? Will viable products be dropped off the map while deeper pockets prevail the difficult economic waiting game? What reason will these 3D consortiums have to exist once a standard is agreed to? Is the wait part of their business plan?

    I’m going to say what every company who truly thinks they have a superior product should want to say: screw it. I want that standards war.

    Share your thoughts in the MTBS forums!