HMD Personalization

The third generation of virtual reality is imminent with the Q1 2016 launches of the Rift and Vive. This generation's stack of tech (rendering, optics, display, tracking) is about to hit a sweet spot between affordability and tech that helps our brain blur the boundary between simulation and reality.

Next, the industry needs to work on virtual embodiment and presence. Social and collaborative VR is a solid next step, but full body tracking and haptics are required next-gen additions. It all needs to be much cheaper, too.

And then: HMD personalization. After all, head mounted displays are personal devices that we wear on our body. Although we blissfully look the other way for demos and events today, human factors including comfort and hygiene will need to become central points of optimization.

Human anatomy has too much variation in head geometry including size, eye location, and ear shape to make a one-size-fits-all model viable. Current headsets do a pretty OK job, but there's many features that need fundamental customization.

I imagine a future where you schedule an appointment with a Virtual Reality Metrologist. At their office, they scan you with sub-millimeter accuracy and use this 3D reconstruction to custom fit the primary face-HMD assembly. By downloading your prescription from a recent visit to an ophthalmologist, an automated optics printer manufactures perfect lenses. Using high-resolution ear and head data from the scan, a cluster crunches your personal HRTF for true spatial audio.

Two hours later, the HMD is assembled from different modules with your personalized features and also material and design choices. You inform the Metrologist that your virtual assistant will automatically schedule a re-fit when it's time to visit reality again.

Two weeks later, the new HMD is so comfortable and natural that you only eat virtual sushi for three days in a row and nearly starve to death. It was a great idea to upgrade the AI module of your assistant, since she noted this experience and automatically tasked a shopping drone to deliver a Chipotle burrito bowl at least once a day.

The End.

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Dimitri Diakopoulos

Creative Technologist @ Intel. Opinions on here are my own.