Coming up for air

MasksIt seems that a raft of dive mask style HMDs are due to come out later this year including Oculus, Sony, Microsoft, Gameface to name but a few.   I am truly puzzled by the total lack of diversity of design of HMDs.  There are so many designs to explore yet the industry already seems to be “fighting the last (cellphone) war” by focusing bigger screens, faster electronics etc. thinking that these incremental improvements will magically drive the VR over the “presence” threshold.  I agree that there is plenty of room for improvement here but the optics and ergonomics also need dramatic improvement to make presence a sustainable activity, not to mention the critical “Content design patterns for successful presense” which has yet to be written let alone adopted.

My plan is to systematically study, explore, prototype and refine alternative HMD designs.  Since there are so many dimensions to explore I have chosen to start by studying the physical properties of trying to hang several hundred grams of stuff in front of your nose comfortably and securely without having to resort to the dreaded “face corset”.

 

FaceSo, lets start with the face itself.  Check out Zygote’s fabulous interactive 3D model of human anatomy.  Pull down the slider on the left a little and you will be able to easily study the structures under the skin that dictate where Head mounted displays should and shouldn’t touch.  The importance of mapping HMD touch points was brought home to me in both my initial Rift helmet design as well as my second one shown here:

As it turned out the reason that the cheek pads failed was simply due to that part of the face having complex musculature and thus nerves and circulation that did not respond well to continuous pressure.

 

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