Glasses on, dive in: video spectacles for movies and games

Berlin (dpa) – Video spectacles might sound like something from science fiction, but they’re already reality.

Some versions for augmented reality – combining the real world with virtual images in the glasses – are still in the works. But models for watching movies and playing games have already impressed with their sharp image quality. Thus, after years of TV monitors growing ever bigger, in some cases, the best ones have shrunk to the size of an eyeball.

To work, these glasses have to be directly in front of the eyeball. They also remain expensive and, according to experts, somewhat uncomfortable. But work is on to make them better.

The benefit is that, unlike television, players dive completely into the world of the movie or game.

”The games cut you off completely from your surroundings. They’re good for when you’re on the go or when there’s a lot of commotion at home,” says Ulrike Kuhlmann of German computer magazine c’t. Sound is delivered with earphones or speakers built directly into the glasses.

3D movies really shine with the glasses, thanks to high image quality and the close proximity to the 3D images, which erases some problems experienced in standard TV viewing.

”The left eye can’t see what the right does, which eliminates ghosting,” says Kuhlmann.

The glasses are also a boon for gaming.

”First-person shooters, especially, get really interesting,” says Frederik Eichelbaum, who is working on a master’s thesis about video glasses at Berlin’s Free University. Moving one’s head in real life means one’s motions are mirrored in the game. People playing flight simulators can look all around the cockpit.

Conversely, films will still struggle with the fact that high resolution is needed and the glasses won’t feel right if they don’t provide a good field of view.

The glasses will also only work if they’re plugged into a notebook, DVD player or smartphone via a cable, usually HDMI. Power is usually provided by a second cable or a battery. That and the relative discomfort mean people will, for now, likely be unwilling to watch a whole feature film with them.

And there’s also the cost. Between 600 and 1,000 euros, says Kuhlmann (783 to 1,305 dollars).

There are also questions about eye damage. Eye doctor Dieter Friedburg compares using such glasses to looking through a microscope, with the possibility of headaches after prolonged use.

However, he says he doesn’t see long-term damage, except for young users, although no studies on the topic have yet been conducted.