The financial market is driving monitor development to head-mounted displays


Disclosure: The companies mentioned are clients of the author.

I have two unique monitors in my home office developed for the financial market, a 43-in. square monitor and a 49-in. panoramic monitor — both from Dell. Though they  could also be used in healthcare and call centers, they were designed for the financial industry, which is famous for analysts and traders who run multiple PCs and multiple monitors. (My 42-in. screen was designed to replace four 17-in. monitors placed in a grid, while my 49-in. display replaces two side-by-side 27-in. monitors. 

But moving either of these big monitors from work to home or, even worse, moving multiple monitors is problematic — both in terms of transportation and a lack of space  in homes and apartments. While some high-performing employees already have a full setup at home, many don’t have the space for such setups. And we still don’t know whether companies may need to shut down again after going back to work. 

That’s why I expect the combined need for ever more screen real estate and the need to support flexible work locations will drive us rapidly to high-resolution head-mounted displays. 

Let’s walk through that this week.

My early view of the future

Just short of two decades ago, when execs were still talking to me (long story), Sony loaned me a head-mounted display (an older version of this) it was marketing to doctors for telemedicine.  The list price was over $20,000, and it had a very high resolution for the time (it was barely HD). You could vary the occlusion to see through it, which was crucial because otherwise you’d feel isolated and blind. You could also see your hands and the keyboard when typing, but that made text harder to read. I did have fun with it: a stewardess once asked whether I worked for the CIA (I didn’t) and I had a meeting next to a vast Lan Party, and the folks competing went crazy for the thing. 

Much of the device’s technology was in a separate box that you had to carry along with your laptop, and it had decent battery life. It would last longer than you’d likely be willing to use it. 

VR headsets

Now VR headsets initially showed promise, but those building them started from the wrong end of the market. Sony was right, the first products should be focused on doing the job regardless of the cost, and then you reduce costs so they become affordable. That way, people who want the products are just waiting for them to become affordable. But the market started at the other end and built cheap crap — burning the majority of early adopters and creating a significant problem with growing this market.  That problem: a critical mass of influencers have now concluded this technology is bad. 

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