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EyeBud can turn video iPod into big-screen TV for one



EyeBud can turn video iPod into big-screen TV for one

A company that makes video display products for military and industrial uses is setting its sights on a new market -- the iPod.

Bellevue-based eMagin Corp. has developed a wearable headset system that plugs into Apple Computer's portable media device and displays video from it in front of one eye, using optical technology designed to give the picture a higher resolution and make it appear larger than on the iPod's screen.

Gary Jones, president and CEO of eMagin Corp. of Bellevue, demonstrates his company's new wearable display for video iPods. Using the EyeBud headset is akin to watching a 105-inch display from 12 feet away. "Suddenly you've got this big-screen, movie-screen, home-theater experience wherever you are," he says.

The system, dubbed the EyeBud 800, is another entry in the booming ecosystem of accessories and complementary products that has emerged around Apple's portable music player. But this isn't in the realm of a $20 carrying case. Scheduled to debut in the first half of this year, the EyeBud is expected to retail for as much as $599 -- $200 more than the cost of a 60-gigabyte iPod.

But eMagin's executives are betting that the notion of a virtual big screen will win people over. With the proximity of the screen to the eye, and the magnifying effect of the company's optical technology, the company says that using the headset is akin to watching a 105-inch display from 12 feet away.

"Suddenly you've got this big-screen, movie-screen, home-theater experience, wherever you are," said Gary Jones, eMagin's president and CEO.

The EyeBud system uses a separate control module, about the size of the iPod, which includes a rechargeable battery pack. The headgear might garner curious looks when worn in public. But eMagin executives say they expect people to get used to the appearance, in the same way that Bluetooth headsets are no longer uncommon.

Postage-stamp sized LCD or OLED panels with magnifying glasses and 'headsets'. 'Executives expect people to get used to the appearance.' Uh, no. It doesn't work that way. Maybe an earbud for your cell phone can work as a consumer product. But an occluded plastic object dangling in front of your face connected to a headset? Outlook not so good.

The entire market of electronic eyewear is there for the taking for Microvision. But the product has to be a total revolution -- inexpensive, full color, eyeglass form factor, wireless and sleek and sexy as hell. So sexy that no one can tell that it's 'electronic eyewear' and people just think you got new glasses.

That's what MVIS can do that no fixed-pixel LCD/OLED company can do. A scanning beam has inherent superiority in that when it's off, it's off and your world is as you see it normally. When it's on it can go from see-through annotative augmented reality to full-on virtual reality/movie/desktop computing depending on the application.

That's the kind of electronic eyewear the world expects and the kind of product that is only possible using the MVIS technology platform.

If you 'expect people to get used to the appearance', I think you are doomed to fail. You have to have people want one because of the appearance. Then you are looking at the next revolution in personal computing.

Comments

  1. I wouldn't worry; eMagin is in worse financial shape than Microvision. The stock price reflects it, too.

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