Forget the Viewmaster: Wednesday in Tokyo, Sony announced the upcoming launch of the "world's first" head-mounted personal 3D viewer, the HMZ-T1. Looking like head gear ripped straight out of a sci-fi movie (pew pew eyes like Scott "Cyclops" summers), the 3D visor offers both 2D and 3D content up close and personal, spread out across a theater-like virtual screen, or rather, the equivalent of a 62.5-foot (750-inch) screen viewed from about 60 feet away.
That's right: the days of actually going out in public to see a movie are rapidly drawing to a close. "The hardest part for us was to make it as small-sized as possible, while maintaining high definition, but we succeeded," Shigeru Kato, a Sony vice president, told Reuters. "People can enjoy watching a favorite movie or play a videogame on their own without bothering other family members."
Honestly, this is a movie junkie's dream come true. The headset packs a pair of 3D-capable 1280 x 720 OLED panels which receives input from an HDMI source like a Blu-ray player, a PC, Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and other 3D hardware and media. The screens also use Sony's 45-degree optical lens technology to reduce 3D crosstalk to nearly zero.
"'HMZ-T1' adopts the 'Dual Panel 3D method,' which utilizes separate panels for the left and right eyes, each with its own dedicated 3D video," the company explained in a press release Wednesday. "Therefore, it does not generate crosstalk. Furthermore, as the HD quality video is displayed separately on each of the panels, viewers can now enjoy high resolution 3D video that is natural, bright and extremely pure, to an extent that had not been possible until now."
On the audio front, 5.1 multi-channel virtual surround sound completes the full-on immersive package. Users can select four different surround modes including Standard, Cinema for emulating a movie theater experience, Game for reproducing a clear sense of direction, and Music for those who simply want to hear tunes in the 60,000 yen ($784) specs. A control key located behind the front of the device is used to control the volume as well as basic operations such as playback, pause, fast forward, rewind, previous chapter, next chapter.
"Before, watching a movie on a big screen was a pastime for the whole family, but now there is a growing demand from people who want to enjoy videos on large-sized screens alone," Kato added.
The 3D specs comes with an additional processor unit that is equipped with a built-in HDMI output switcher so that users can switch between the Head Mounted Display and an additional connected HDTV. It also charges the headset when it's not in use – Sony says that a wearable sensor automatically turns off the two screens when the viewer isn't donning the futuristic specs.
But while Sony’s upcoming Head Mounted Display sounds just awesomely cool, the company warns that it's not for everyone. "Considering the protection of the growth and development, we ask children (age 15 and younger) to refrain from using this product," the company said. "In any rough or unstable environment with a propensity for travel sickness to occur (such as in a vehicle), we ask our customers to refrain from using the device."
The headset will initially launch in Japan on November 11 for 60,000 yen ($784 USD). So far there's no word on when the device will arrive here in the States, but we're betting it will be in the same timeframe as the launch of Sony's handheld platform, the PlayStation Vita.