While content, toolkits and software are always a big focus for the Game Developers Conference, there was an abundance of hardware and tech shown off at this year’s show, as well. At UploadVR, we’re confident that both virtual reality and augmented reality will be ubiquitous in the not-too-distant future, and the most prominent devices will likely be integrated AR/VR units that can easily switch back and forth between each. We haven’t seen too many models that come close to that kind of dual-functionality as of yet, but we got a chance to don IMMY’s NEO (Natural Eye Optic) iC 60 at GDC this week, and even though it was an early engineering build, we can already envision what the future holds.
IMMY consists of a 15-person team out of Michigan. While small, they were the team behind the James Webb Space Telescope, and have been working on this particular optics system for the past 13 years. The IMMY NEO uses direct retinal projection technology, using an OLED projector that bounces light off of mirrors and right into your eyes. Because of this, IMMY’s projection technology doesn’t suffer from as much distortion as other AR displays, thereby alleviating eye strain.
While just an engineering build at this point, the test unit I tried was very light. I was impressed by how bright the colors were and the sharpness of the picture. The 60-degree field of view was also noticeably wider than both the Hololens and Meta 2, and gave a more natural visual feel to the experience.
It was all just proof-of-concept at this point with no specific application software, but a brief demo of a vibrant green sea turtle swimming back and forth through the crowds at GDC did show off the fidelity that can be achieved with the optics. VP of Development Salvatore Vilardi also said the next revision will shoot 40% more photons in your eyeballs resulting in greater brightness, and should be ready in a month or so.
There are no definitive consumer release plans yet, but the IMMY should be out to developers by the end of 2017. A consumer version is planned for the future, but IMMY sees their solution more for industrial enterprise uses in the near term with consumer applications coming shortly after that.