Screen size limitations on smartphones and UMPCs hamper users’ ability to fully enjoy mobile video, TV or the internet, according to Kip Kokinakis, president and CEO of Myvu. spoke to him about Myvu’s Crystal video glasses and his prediction that millions of people will soon be wearing them for mobile viewing.

Why watch a movie, play a video game or browse the internet on a tiny screen when you could be doing so on a 40” one?

The answer would invariably be because there isn’t any real alternative for anyone on the move with a smartphone, UMPC or MID.

Kip Kokinakis begs to differ. But since he is president and CEO of a company that designs and manufactures video eyewear for mobile entertainment, you would expect him to.

The Westwood, Massachusetts-based firm’s latest offering is the Myvu Crystal, video glasses that connect to any media device with video out functionality – including the iPhone, Nokia N Series and most Samsung models.

The premium model gives users something akin to a DVD-quality experience on a 40” screen, with built in ear-buds and the ability to “see around” the floating image when on the go.

Spotting someone in an airport departure lounge watching a movie on a pair of Crystals may still seem a mite outlandish – but Kokinakis doesn’t believe it will be for long.

“Within three years millions of people will be using these things,” he said. “All sorts of information and data can be translated to the glasses. It’s becoming natural to be out and about with them on.”

What will influence uptake?

Two factors that will undoubtedly emphasis the need for improved screen quality and size are the take-up of mobile TV and web browsing.

This is already expanding rapidly in many markets around the world – just recently T-Mobile in the UK announced it was upgrading the download capability of its HSDPA 3G network to 7.2Mbps – and the pace of growth is set to continue.

So too will the smartphone market, with research from ABI Research indicating that handset manufacturers will continue to push many high-end features further down their product lines, so increasing usage of mobile video, TV and the internet.

And while Kokinakis admits that “wonderful things” are being done with smartphones and UMPCs in terms of computing power, there is only so much you can do with a small screen.

“One thing you can’t do with a 4” screen is replicate a 50” screen,” he said. “You can’t keep evolving the screen on a hand-held device.
“Video glasses are really the most cost effective way of getting a big screen on a small device.”

Viewing technology will keep pace with content developments

While the Crystal is described as providing the highest pixel density and sharpest resolution for any videowear of its size, Kokinakis insists the product is “a long way from being done”.

He believes the technology is at a “tipping point” and over the coming year we can expect to see developments offering more pixels, near HD quality and a larger screen size.

“By the end of next year we will have products so far beyond anything we thought of when we first demonstrated video glasses,” he said. “Everyone will be excited.”

Kokinakis said that as optical quality improves and the number of pixels rises, the eyewear would become thinner and lighter while being able to display images as if on a 70” screen.

While competing technologies, such as flexible displays, which can be folded or rolled, hold great potential, he doesn’t believe they will usurp video glasses.

Speaking from Singapore, a center of excellence for material science and where he spends around 70 per cent of his time, he said: “The need for an optical system is there. Others are coming….but nothing replaces plastic at a price.”

Another viable opportunity for video glasses is augmented reality, which Kokinakis believes will be feasible within three or four years.

Who will be buying video glasses?

While video eyegear might appear to only have appeal for those enduring lengthy commutes or frequent long-haul flights – especially in the US, Kokinakis believes the market and appeal is much broader.

He points especially to the European and Asian markets, which have demographics more suited to video glasses because of wider use of mass transit and the fact people generally live in smaller living spaces.

“We see a day when it’s not just about watching a movie, but people are watching TV while others are web browsing – all on a 50” screen,” he said

Not so long ago people wearing headphones in public were scoffed at – imagine!
Do you see video eyewear such as Crystal glasses becoming the norm for mobile viewing? We would be interested to hear your comments.

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