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Siemens Global Pl@yer

Wireless Stereoscopic Gaming System Prototype

As a surprise Siemens presented a wireless stereoscopic VR-helmet at this years CeBIT. You would have expected such a device from anybody from Sony to Microsoft, but not from these guys. Siemens regards itself as the leader in wireless communication. Now they seek to get into every area where wirelessness may be important.

Although I didn't attend CeBIT this year I had the chance to try the helmet already back in February under NDA.

Since a VR-system blocks the user from outside visuals the absence of a wire is even more important here than for many other devices which are already available in wireless versions.

Siemens did some research to find out what kind of design would most appeal to the users. The goal was to do the coolest looking VR-gear possible.
The helmet was drafted by a design company which usually does helmets for sports. These are people who know how to balance a 'hat'. The Siemens 'Global Pl@yer' is very comfortable and it's unusually easy to get into and out again. It's supported by a system of  textile bands which evenly distribute the weight over the head.

Discussing the technical details in-depth at this time is pretty pointless. The technical specs aren't official and would certainly change a lot in a final  consumer product. Anyway here are some tidbids.

The distance between the eyes and the displays can be adjusted, but everything else falls into place by itself. There is no focus or eye-width-adjustment required. The image quality was O.K., especially for a wireless system. The resolution and field of view are within the usual consumer/semi-pro range though. The video signal is transfered by digital DECT-technology. I assume it uses two distinct channels to preserve the stereo-information. One can freely move throughout the room without any video or sound problems. For testing purposes the stereoscopic 3D images came from an existing 3rd party shutterglasses driver. Headtracking wasn't implemented yet, but is an option for the future.

The helmet was accompanied by a wireless, baseless controller which looks like a bigger, sturdier version of a game-console-controller. Actually it seems the idea is to put the complete console-electronics into this unit. The press-release describes "Global Pl@yer" as an all-in-one wireless gaming system for 'home-entertainment', not as a PC-add-on.

What you can hardly see in the image is the battery which sits in the back of the head and is golden! There's also a well designed base-station with emitter and charging-bays for the batteries.

Currently the Siemens helmet is just a functional design and technology study. It's obvious that the majority of consumers won't pay the amount of money such a system would cost nowadays. Trying the Siemens convinced me of one thing though.  I can live with wired shutterglasses, keyboards, mouses, headphones, whatever, but the VR-helmet of the future should be wireless, since a closed helmet leaves you blindfolded and a victim to any cable which comes your way.

Christoph Bungert