By Jon Fortt
September 18, 2006

Last week I got a visit from MicroOptical, a company out in Massachusetts that is doing some fascinating stuff with heads up displays. It makes the myvu personal media viewer ($299 basic version, $399 “made for iPod” version), which is basically a wearable contraption shaped like a pair of sunglasses that you can plug into a video iPod or another portable video device.

Once you plug it in, the video from the iPod shows up on the wearable screen, and you get decent audio by plugging in the little earbuds that are connected to the glasses (which aren’t really glasses, because you can’t see through them).

I did a quick test drive of the myvu, and it works pretty well – it’s supposed to get about 6 hours of battery life, and the picture is about the quality of a 25″ CRT television from 7 feet away.

At first, though, I found the experience underwhelming considering the price. In our age of big plasma TVs, the screen, while sharp, seems sort of small. But then as I started to move around my office wearing the myvu, two things impressed me:

First, I didn’t get a headache. Wearable displays – and I’ve tried a few – often leave you with that feeling like you’ve crossed your eyes for so long they might stay that way.

Second, and just as important, I could see where I was going with the myvu on. The headset is thin enough that you can wear it on the bridge of your nose and see where you’re going while also glancing down and watching TV. I’m not saying this is a good idea – it’s probably risky or downright dangerous to wear this thing while, say, crossing the street. But if you’re doing chores around the house, or lounging around in bed, or needing to half-listen to someone blabbing about something-or-other when you’d rather be catching up on Lost episodes … well … now you can.

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