With Solos Glasses, 2K microdisplay, Kopin hopes to storm the VR industry

Virtual reality is a burgeoning industry, and while companies like HTC and Oculus are the kings at the moment, that isn’t stopping others from trying to plant their own flags. Kopin is a name people might not readily recognize, but the company has been working with VR since 1991, according to Kopin’s Stuart Nixdorff. At CES 2018, Digital Trends talked to Nixdorff about Kopin’s interesting history, and its recent attempts to establish its name in the consumer VR space.

While the name Kopin may not ring any bells for most consumers, it is the world’s largest microdisplay company. One of the reasons Kopin isn’t a household name is that its biggest client has been the military.

“Most of what we’ve done has come out of military development, and soldier deployments,” Nixdorff said, “where you’re trying to understand how form factors, products, technologies come out, and to help somebody solve a job. And so for the past six or seven years, we’ve been developing concept systems and reference designs, to help people understand and envision how to use products.”

Among Kopin’s most notable nonmilitary projects was its work for the U.S. women’s cycling team. “Three years ago, we started a project called ‘Project Rio’ which was for the Rio Olympics,” Nixdorff continued, “where we worked with the U.S. women’s cycling team to develop sports glasses specifically to help them improve performance to ramp up for the Olympics.”

The result was Kopin’s Solos smart glasses, which use microdisplays to relay metrics to cyclists as they ride. At CES 2018, Kopin showed off its second-generation Solos glasses, which are lightweight and have both integrated audio and voice control.

Solos isn’t the only project Kopin has been working on, however. The company is also showing off a new 2K OLED microdisplay, which could take the VR industry to the next level, not just in performance, but in size.

“What we found from the VR market is two things,” Nixdorff explains. “One, they wanted to have extremely high, lifelike experiences, which is resolutions, speed, lack of latency. And the second is very, very small size. And with the microdisplay, you’re able to shrink the size of VR headsets down about 40 percent.”

Kopin’s new microdisplay is, according to Nixdorff, the world’s highest resolution display, with 3,000 pixels per inch. Its small size means it can fit in smaller headsets, which would be less cumbersome for users. Look for headsets that incorporate Kopin’s display within a year or so.

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