Ultra-realistic virtual reality tech makes a run at next-gen consoles

It makes the optoelectronics used to train helicopter pilots, tank crews and jet fighter pilots. Its high resolution, near-to-eye microdisplays are used in surgical microscopes and in HD cinema cameras. Now this company, called Forth Dimension Displays, wants to take on gaming in hopes of delivering in-home, reality-replicating surround vision for the next generation of game consoles.

The tech, demonstrated in a San Francisco hotel room during last week's Game Developers Conference, included head-mounted, motion-sensing, high-definition displays, a vest loaded down with two large drive electronics kits and a modded PlayStation Move gun connected to a computer running a copy of Half-Life 2.

The results were astounding, an experience that drops a player into the game world, allowing them to look around by moving around and aim and fire by ... aiming and firing. The view was so immersive that when the engineers on hand swiveled the view manually it felt as if the world was shifting under my feet.

The British company has been meeting with game console and peripheral makers in hopes of bringing its technology to homes. Representative from Forth spent last week meeting with folks about the tech in hopes of building a bit of buzz and ground swell around the idea of using their wearable HD video displays for gaming.

The kit shown off in the hotel room was created using essentially off-the-shelf tech and the company's microdisplays. But Forth Dimension Displays doesn't make consumer electronics, Greg Truman, chief executive of the company, reminded us.

What it does make, and has been making for 20 years, is an inch-in-diagonal microdisplay that in its current state has the same resolution as a high-definition TV. The next generation of its display, Truman said, will soak each eye in three million pixels. That's essentially the cap for what the eye can perceive in terms of resolution.

"There is a limit to how many you need and it's driven by the field of view, the number of pixels and what you're trying to show. Beyond that point there is no point in going any further because the eye won't see the resolution," Truman said. "One reason why we picked that resolution is because it will allow us to deliver something which is seamless."

While the tech still has no backers, Truman said that it could be quickly rolled out once it does. We could be playing a consumer version of the display by next GDC, he said, if a gaming company picked up the tech.

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