Initially released in Japan last November, Epson has now announced Stateside availability for its Moverio BT-100 wearable display. The rather chunky eyewear projects images onto a virtual floating screen in front of the user that grows in size the further away the wearer stares into the distance - up to the equivalent of a 320-inch screen at a distance of 65 feet (20 meters).
Epson started work on the BT-100 head-mounted display system at the close of 2009. The finished product features an HTPS panel mounted in each of the arms. Projected light travels through a sheet-like light guide, bounces off a half mirror and then onto each of the wearer's eyes. Epson says that the "projected light is balanced against the intensity of light from the outside world so that the wearer can see his or her surroundings and images from the LCD panel in the same field of vision."
For added comfort, Epson has placed generous padding on the inside of each arm, and the unit comes with three different sizes of nose pads and removable transparent lens shades. Detachable earphones are plugged into the unit's arms for Dolby Mobile Surround Sound and the BT-100 can also be placed over the top of existing spectacles. The virtual screen resolution is quoted as being a quarter of Full HD, and as such is not likely to pose too much of a threat to the latest - much cooler looking - offerings from Vuzix.
A 3.7 mm diameter cable connects a smartphone-sized, touch-enabled trackpad controller powered by Android 2.2 to the head gear. Content can be streamed to the system over an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connection or fed in from the 1 GB of internal storage or via the included microSD media card slot (the Moverio BT-100 is supplied with a 4 GB card). Users can also take advantage of Adobe Flash 11 support to browse the web or play games. The system's rechargeable battery is said to give around six hours of usage on a single charge.
In addition to providing users with mobile movie entertainment, Epson says that the system has the potential to be developed for training purposes, virtual 3D design environments, and enhancing static visual content (in art galleries or museums, for instance).
The Moverio BT-100 is available now direct from Epson for US$699.99.