Sharp has unveiled a prototype for a new super-lightweight virtual reality headset, reinforcing the notion that weight and portability are the major design priorities in the imminent generation of VR headsets designed for home use.
The new Sharp headset weighs just 175 grams and was unveiled last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2023) in Las Vegas. The device has 2K resolution per eye and an RGB color camera module with a polymer lens, according to VR Times. It also has two black and white tracking cameras.
However, VR industry-watchers suggest that Sharp is unlikely to launch the headset it showcased, and may use it to showcase technology such as its cameras and lenses which may be supplied to other firms making headsets. Still, its ultra-compact style is an interesting addition to a trend of new VR headset models prizing lightweight credentials.
Also at CES, HTC announced its forthcoming Vive XR Elite VR and augmented reality (AR) headset. Billed by the company as a headset that’s “one of the lightest that’s on the market”, it has a detachable battery cradle, helping its portability. It’s selling for $1,099 and will be available on February 15, 2023.
The HTC seems designed as an answer to Meta’s Quest 2 headset. Apple are expected to enter the VR/AR market soon too, although details of their expected headset products have not been revealed.
Another potentially significant AR headset unveiling has come from the Israeli company Lumus, which is working on ever-more compact AR glasses with its new Z-Lens technology.
The Z-Lens features a lightweight optical engine with 2k resolution for each eye, and can potentially be used with prescription glasses for designs almost as compact as regular glasses. The prototypes reportedly only have a field of view of 50 degrees, although the company is aiming to up that to 80 degrees.
One company concentrating more on VR software than hardware is Canon. At this year’s CES the company, traditionally known for its camera products, showed off its Kokomo VR meeting software package.
While the technology seems designed more for business than pleasure purposes, it has the potential to facilitate richer social connections and intimacy through VR. Using Kokomo, a VR headset-wearer can create a digital avatar of themself using a smartphone, which can then interact with other avatars in their meeting session.
The system sounds like it has been designed as a next-generation Zoom meeting style. Probably using an ultra-light VR headset, judging by the way things are going.