Panasonic has developed the world's first High Dynamic Range (HDR) capable ultra-high definition (UHD) virtual reality (VR) eyeglasses, the company announced Monday. The as-yet-unnamed device will be on display as a reference product at the company's booth at CES 2020. The annual mobile event starts today in Las Vegas and runs through January 10.
Panasonic developed the VR glasses in collaboration with Massachusetts-based electronics manufacturer Kopin Corporation. The two companies worked closely to co-develop a micro OLED panel capable of displaying HDR images without the dreaded screen-door effect (SDE).
The VR glasses also incorporate Panasonic's audio and visual technologies already utilized in its existing products. The Japanese company borrowed signal processing technologies from its TVs and Blu-ray Disc players, acoustic technologies from Technics audio products, and optical technologies from LUMIX digital cameras. Panasonic says the adoption of Technics' original dynamic driver enabled it to achieve an "optimal sound that deliver realistic sensations". A pair of earbuds with minimal wiring appears to be magnetically attached to the frame.
There's also a new optical module developed by Panasonic, Kopin Corporation, and 3M Company, a Minnesota-based chemical and electrical materials supplier. This module enables the display of "natural and distortion-free images in super single focus" while keeping a compact and lightweight design.
This combination of new and existing technologies helped Panasonic develop an eyeglass-like shaped VR headset that can be worn comfortably without the need for a headband, unlike most VR headsets available currently, which tend to be big in size and require a headband. The company says the glasses are comfortable enough to make users feel as if they were wearing eyeglasses.
5G could open up a market for HDR content and VR headsets
2020 will be a year of 5G and Panasonic is betting on it to open up a market for its UHD VR eyeglasses. The company expects a number of new services to be offered using VR glasses with the arrival of 5G. HDR resolution is also bound to be more readily available once this next-get network reaches a wider consumer base. Panasonic sees an opportunity there and is looking to make its UHD VR eyeglasses ready for this forthcoming full-scale commercial 5G services.
The company says it will continue to develop this VR glasses so that they can be used in a variety of applications. With potential use cases in sports, entertainment, and healthcare, as well as virtual travel experiences, VR headsets could well see a bigger adoption this year.