Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 05, 2015

Head Mounted Display Converts Smartphones to Augmented Reality Devices

At this point, we are all familiar with Google Glass as the device that attracts attention in the field of augmented reality. However, over the past six to nine months we have seen other players getting into the arena and developing their own glasses-like products in the hopes of being noticed as the industry matures.

One such company is Seebright, which was developing a headset called Spark, designed to provide an immersive experience to users based on existing technologies like Bluetooth sensors and gaming peripherals via Wi-Fi. The unit is head-mounted and allows users drop their iPhone or Android device into a slot and uses a series of mirrors to expand and wrap the displayed image around the user.

At this year’s CES 2015 event in Las Vegas, Seebright unveiled the Seebright Wave HMD (head-mounted display). The system includes a see-through optical head-mounted display, which can project images from either an iPhone or Android smartphone. In addition, there is a 9-axis motion controller, which is designed to provide simple but precise control.

Dirk Kanngiesser, who is Seebright’s CEO, made the following comments, “Our breakthrough multi-mirror optics deliver a stunning, high quality visual overlay for 3D stereoscopic smartphone driven projection. With the Seebright Wave HMD system, users can see one another and the real world while experiencing a new generation of mobile AR and VR games and applications.”

While the Seebright Wave HMD is being unveiled at CES 2015, production on the device has not yet started. In fact, you can look for a Kickstarter campaign to begin sometime later next month in February. Seebright will fund the production of the multi-mirror HMD and the 9-axis motion controller for developers and pioneering users through the Kickstarter campaign.

According to Seebright co-founder and CTO, John Murray, “We have figured out how to turn your smartphone into a true see-through augmented reality display with the widest field-of-view of any see-through display out there and we will deliver it on Kickstarter with our motion controller for less than $150. The Seebright Wave HMD system is a significant refinement of prior designs and uses a revolutionary curved multi-mirror optical design resulting in low optical distortion. It projects high resolution images from a smartphone for both high quality AR and VR experiences.”

Seebright is also demonstrating new software experiences that have been built using the Seebright SDK with WebGL and Unity3D as a way to demonstrate an easy cross-platform development environment. The Seebright SDK and toolset combines the best of AR and VR development into a simple environment for developing visual overlay applications with 9-axis motion control. In an attempt to encourage diversity in initial application development, Seebright will operate a cloud portal for developers to share code, assets and applications.

 Dr. Robert A. Young, who previously served on the Board of Directors of ATI Technologies and SanDisk and was the CEO of Tessera Technologies, joins the Board of Directors of Seebright. He feels that, “Seebright is introducing a unique combination of advanced optics, specialized software and open standards support that demonstrate our holistic approach to solving the technology and adoption challenges that have faced augmented reality.

What we have here is something that can be considered to be a revolutionary optical system that transforms smartphones into Industry’s first low cost transparent wide field-of-view 3D head-mounted display for mixed media. The price is certainly affordable and reasonable at $150. Since augmented reality seems to be at the point where it is set to evolve, it will be quite interesting to see what further developments we can expect to see in 2015.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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