Arnold Kling  

An Old Prediction May Come True

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Jane Galt (who showed up at a lunch at Cato today) found this story.


Several electronics outfits now sell head-mounted displays that they claim are the next frontier in gaming and movie watching. Rudimentary virtual-reality tech has been around since at least the mid-'90s...The technology has improved a lot since then—the headsets have shrunk to manageable proportions, and the images are clearer.

Over five years ago, I predicted that headsets will be the next software platform. Not because of virtual reality, but because the capabilities of personal communication devices (cell phones) have outstripped their form factor. I don't want to use a cell phone web browser until it comes with goggles.

My essay goes into all sorts of ways that this technology could disrupt social interactions.


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CATEGORIES: Business Economics



TRACKBACKS (3 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/694
The author at amcgltd in a related article titled Head Up Round Up writes:
    As a die-hard shooter and simulator fan, I've been wondering just where the consumer state-of-the-art for HMD (Head Mounted Displays) is nowadays. I need wonder no longer. Eight, ten years ago a $1200 HMD would get you VGA (640x480)... [Tracked on May 4, 2007 1:13 PM]
COMMENTS (4 to date)
Ivan writes:

I work in robotics. Many deployed unmanned ground vehicles are fully tele-operated, meaning people use video streams to manually remotely control the robot.

The idea of a headset instead of what is essentially a very rugged laptop with a daylight visible screen is very attractive.

The problem is eye fatigue. It is VERY easy to get a headache when watching these things for a while.

They just aren't good enough yet.

The prediction can only come true if other technology comes online. Some systems project light onto the retinae. That makes a lot of sense. I'm not sure they've gone beyond grayscale projections though.

Systems that just have LCDs near the eye are pretty horrible.

In addition to working on robotics, I'm also a gamer. The refresh rate and resolution of current displays are horrible.

Professor Postrel has been talking about "data specs" for at least a decace.

Robert Speirs writes:

Tele-headsets would give privacy to those working in cubicles. In fact, with a connected headset giving access to all one's data, why would you need an office, a desk or a telephone? We could all work from comfy chairs. I'm not clear on the input device. Would it be a keyboard or a mouse or what?

Ivan writes:

"We could all work from comfy chairs."

The reason telecommuting is difficult is the lack of social interaction. There is something dynamic about a group of people sitting around a table that hasn't been replicated yet.

A good video phone could solve that.

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