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Video Eyewear for Sunglass Cinema

By Tim Jarvis

Now you can look cool in a set of high-tech, stylish shades that come with a built-in virtual home theater. Sunglass-style video eyewear lets you test your gaming skills or watch your favorite movies -- even in 3-D -- whether you’re sitting at home, lounging in a hotel lobby or ordering a cocktail at 30,000 feet.

What Do They Do?
Video eyewear doesn’t provide sun protection -- and you can’t actually see through the lenses -- but some models look just like regular shades. Other models resemble something you might see a character on Star Trek wearing. What these glasses do provide, however, is a fully immersive gaming or video experience that you can take along with you wherever you go, courtesy of the dual high-resolution LCD displays that are integrated into the frames. The result is a user experience akin to sitting on your couch and looking across the room at a flat-screen TV. Just imagine enjoying that experience behind your shades.

Depending on the model, features may include the ability to access content such as games, videos and the Internet -- in 3-D format -- from any device that supports a TV/AV output, including your iPod or iPhone.

The Virtual Lowdown
Key features to consider when buying video eyewear include:

· Virtual screen size. Check the size of the virtual screen, as well as the virtual distance from the screen. Sizes range from 37 to 67 inches on the models we feature here. Distance from the screen tends to fall between 7 and 10 feet. (Remember, these are virtual measurements -- they don’t affect frame size or fit, which remains roughly the same as ordinary sunglasses.)

· Diagonal field of view. This is measured in degrees. The larger the number, the larger the perceived display size.

· Input device compatibility. Think iPhones, DVD players, game consoles etc.

· 3-D capability. You may have the option of choosing this over 2-D displays.

· Special features. These enhance comfort, sound quality and more.

The Options
There are a number of virtual video eyewear manufacturers. Although this entertainment market has been around for a while, it’s recently seen dramatic improvements in both design and technology.

Vuzix, one of the industry leaders, began developing advanced display devices for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Special Ops community 10 years ago. Now it’s using that same technology to drop entertainment bombs into your eyeballs. “Our video eyewear units are stylish, require little power and we’ve pushed our high resolution displays to optimum performance,” says VP of Corporate Communications Charlotte Walker. “But we’re building toward glasses that will be indistinguishable from regular eyewear.”

Prices for the Vuzix Wrap eyewear range from $169.00 for the basic model to $1,999.00 for the augmented reality glasses.

Australian-based 22Moo is another major player in the market. Over the last five years, it’s focused on creating a more user-friendly product. “Comfort is the feature that makes us stand out,” says Jason Chan, company founder. “Attention to details, like ensuring the product can be easily used in conjunction with prescription eyewear, is among our top priorities.”

Prices for 22Moo eyewear range from $199 to $450.

Our Picks

Vuzix Wrap 230, $169.99 ?

The best price for spec-sized home theater

Virtual Screen Size: 46 inches, as if viewed from a 10-foot distance with a 22-degree field of view

Compatibility: Most input devices

3-D Capability: Yes

Special Features: Adjustable hypoallergenic nose piece, detachable noise-isolating earphones

Argo Cinema 2, $450.00 ?

The audiophile’s choice: Dolby-surround-sound certified

Virtual Screen Size: 48 inches, as if viewed from a 7-foot distance with a 32-degree field of view

Compatibility: Compatible with most input devices

3-D Capability: Yes

Special Features: External speaker support and control box; Dolby-surround-sound certified

Vuzix Wrap 920AR, $1,999.00 ?


Virtual Screen Size: 67 inches, as if viewed from a 7-foot distance with a 31-degree field of view

Compatibility: Compatible with most input devices

3-D Capability: Yes

Special Features: Augmented Reality glasses are sold with a bundled plug-in that allows you to turn your desktop into a “HOLO-Deck” and enjoy an interactive 2-D and 3-D experience.

Copyright (c) 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.


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