Not content with creating a spooky device that watches you while listening to your every word, Microsoft is making a device for the Xbox that literally gets in your face. On your face may be more appropriate though. A 2010 patent filed by the house that Bill Gates built titled “Projector Eyewear for Xbox and Beyond” describes a headset that would project game audio and visuals directly into your eyes and ears. Forget the television: Now you can play Halo 4 in your own head.
Uncovered by the patent bloodhounds at Patentbolt, the display system described in the patent could be used with a selection of different electronics, including both the Xbox 360 and the PC. It could be housed in a helmet, like the one in the image above, or in a pair of goggles or glasses.
The human eye can’t focus on images that are closer than a few centimeters away, so game images pumped directly into the eyewear lenses wouldn’t work. Instead a “virtual image” is stereoscopically created by displaying two different images at the same time, not unlike how the Nintendo 3DS’ top screen gets its three-dimensional effect. Microsoft’s Projector Eyewear would, in one of its configurations, actually display a 16:9 aspect ratio image that appears about 21-inches away, as though a widescreen television were floating just ahead of you. The patent also says that the display will be somewhat transparent, letting you view the room around you even with the game running.
Before anyone runs to get his Lawnmower man costume out of the attic, it’s important to remember that this is a patent and nothing more. The technology described may never be commercially released. That said if the Projector Eyewear were as affordable as Microsoft’s Kinect, the two technologies coupled together would be the closest to “virtual reality” as consumer electronics have gotten. A personalized display where motion and voice can be used as inputs; All that’s missing is haptic feedback to let you actually feel the fruit getting cut in half while playing Fruit Ninja Kinect. Having someone spray you with a Capri Sun while you play will have to do in the meantime.
More details on the technology can be gleaned from Patentbolt’s summary.