It might look like two circuit boards trapped inside some glasses, but Avegant's prototype Virtual Retinal Display (VRD) is not your run-of-the mill head-mounted display (HMD). Using an array of two million micro mirrors, this dorky-looking pair of spectacles is able to deliver an incredibly sharp virtual 3D experience by projecting two separate images directly onto each of your retinas.
Though it sounds a bit dangerous, Avegant's CEO, Ed Tang, assures the low light shined onto your eyes is in no way damaging to your vision, like lasers can be. Avegant's VRD differs from similar products like the Oculus Rift and the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED in that it uses no screens, since your brain interprets the low-resolution light sources as an 80-inch panel seen from eight feet away. Each projected WXGA (1,280 x 768) image results in twice the resolution of competing HMDs and a seamless, clear and vivid image via precise pixel blending.
This requires precise optical alignment and focusing, which impatient consumers might find a bit frustrating, a reason why companies like Google decided to pursue other avenues for HMDs. However, Avegant's VRD simplified that process through adjustable optical elements and a glasses frame that can accommodate different face widths, making it easy to customize for each individual.
Since the VRD doesn't use an LCD to deliver the image, eye strain is effectively reduced, as your eyes are not simply staring at a close screen and are allowed to work on their own. Avegant's optics-based technology grew out of a military request from years ago, for an alternative to traditional night vision goggles that would make use of thermal imaging.
Avegant hopes to release the final form of its VRD at January's CES with a crowd-funded launch to follow. The slated price has not yet been set, though it will be at a "consumer-friendly" price point. Guess we'll just have to wait a bit to shoot up zombies, set new speed limits in Forza and watch Batman in 3D.