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Trimersion: The Next Phase in VR HMDs
posted by: Monica Hafer
date posted: 11:41 PM Thu May 18th, 2006
last revision: 11:40 PM Thu May 18th, 2006

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Click to read.What a difference a year makes in technology! Last year at E3 I looked at a company called Trimersion and their Head Mounted Display (HMD) virtual reality game peripheral. It was a little cumbersome and quirky, but I could tell that this was a company to watch for in the future. This year they were back, and their new design is looking good.

The Trimersion is wireless, so there\'s no chance of getting tangled up or tripping. This is a three part system, with the HMD, the base station, and a gun controller. The base sends audio and video transmissions to the HMD. The audio is pumped into built in speakers in the shell of the headset, so there are no earbuds or headphones. A gyro tracker in the headset sends data to the base station on its orientation, and the gun sends the gamepad commands. The gun is set up with all of the buttons you\'d need to use from an Xbox or Playstation 2 controller and runs off a standard 9volt battery (rechargeables ok). This is fully USB compatible, replacing the mouse on a PC or (with a small adapter plug which is included) the controller on a console system. In fact, it\'s the only HMD that\'s currently \"plug and play\" for the Xbox and Playstation 2.

With a left-handed D-pad on the gun\'s barrel controlling your motion in the game and the HMD giving you the POV/camera function, this system is very intuitive and easy to pick up and use. Some people who have motion sickness in FPS games will still probably have a little, but I found that the helmet actually decreased mine. This version is much lighter than the old one (weighing in at about 11oz.), and although there is still a little bit of weight on the bridge of your nose, it is fairly comfortable. You can also adjust the fit by tightening the band at the back. If you are the type of gamer who plays for hours at a time, you\'d probably need to take an occasional break to rest with this peripheral for strictly physiological reasons. But I was surprised at the comfort level, especially compared to its former version.

While at their booth, I was able to talk to Marc Rifkin, Vice President of Trimersion\'s parent company, 3001AD. He said that in Sept./Oct. of this year they look to be moving 100,000 units a month. And the price this year will come down from $595 to $395. He said the next device slated for production (with its tech already in place) is a tracking gun, which allows 360 degree on-screen visual sweeps (using the less-than 180 degree field of motion in front of your TV set/monitor). These guns will be retailing at $125 or lower.

He also said that the technology behind the VR HMDs from his company is being used by the military, police, and in the medical field currently. In the medical field they are using what he termed as \"PhysioVision.\" For example, a catscan can be overlaid on a person\'s body to facilitate preplanning and surgery. They are working with Johnson & Johnson and the Cleveland Clinic\'s Cardiac Institute, to name a few. This is just another instance where the technology from entertainment is finding massive applications in other arenas.

While the system may be a bit pricey for the casual gamer, Trimersion is definitely a product to watch, as it looks like they\'ll be at the forefront in gaming peripherals in the VR future. If you want more information, check out their website at http://www.3001ad.com )

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