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Futuristic, thin and light VR headset from Panasonic subsidiary: Shiftall

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The Panasonic parent company, Shiftall, known for their mass-production of IoT devices and body tracking, unveils slim and futuristic-looking virtual reality headset named MeganeX. A design aesthetic that is only possible by the Pancake lens technology. Known to dim display perception, that Shiftall then compensated for with a high-fidelity Kopin MicroOLED display.

Panasonic subsidiary, Shiftall unveil futuristic-looking VR headset

The Panasonic, Tokyo-based subsidiary, Shiftall, announces MicroOLED and futuristic virtual reality headset: MeganeX. Shiftall specializes in IoT (Internet of Things) solutions and home appliance technologies but is also the maker of the body tracking system HaritoraX compatible with SteamVR. 

The new VR device is expected to arrive in Spring 2022 and be priced around $900.

The headset, with its futuristic-looking, Steampunk design resembles the Panasonics 2020 announced VR headsets in both design and specifications. A Panasonic reality product that gained a lot of attention at CES 2020. With its display fidelity and novel design aesthetic.

Interestingly, Shiftall is known for its industry-leading body tracking system, HaritoraX utilizing inertial measurement units on a worn belt to track the human body through accelerometers and gyroscopes.

However, with the company’s “team specializing in IoT development and mass production”, it is not difficult to parse out why Panasonic chose Shiftall to shift its virtual reality focus over to them.

Furthermore, in a 2020 video, Shiftall’s CEO, Takuma Iwasa, describes its relationship with Panasonic as offering “a small quantity of mass production” so Panasonic can “trial and error [new products] on the market.” This may indicate that the MeganeX will be rolled out in limited quantities to test market fit and feasibility.

MeganeX specifications

  • Display: 1.3inch Kopin OLED Microdisplay 5.2K (2,560 × 2,560 per eye), 10bit HDR / 120Hz.
  • Lens design: Pancake optics, as opposed to the Fresnel technology.
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1
  • Connection: DisplayPort Alt Mode on USB-C or DisplayPort + USB2.0: connection with conversion box (included).
  • Compatibility: SteamVR, with support for other platforms in the future.
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out head tracking.
  • Sound: built-in speaker system.
  • Weight: 250g 
  • Price: around $900.

The Pancake lens behind the MeganeX

What facilitates the novel design aesthetic of the MeganeX is the Pancake lens technology. The lens design enables virtual reality headsets to shrink and lose much of its weight. Opting for more stylish and approachable designs appealing to broader audiences. Competitive VR options that utilize this same Pancake optics are the HTC Vive Flow and EM3 Ether. With both Huawei, Pico, and Meta rumored to use such revolutionary lens design.

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However, a complication is commonly found in the Pancake technology of requiring brighter displays. The reason is that light disturbances are caused by the polarized elements within the lens reflecting the light from the display back and forth. In short, the more the light bounced, the dimmer it became. Thankfully, the initial reception of the new MeganeX with its MicroOLED display is positive, with no mention of a darkened display perception.

Conclusion

It looks like Panasonic’s previously shown prototypes and concepts of VR headsets is making its first forays into the VR market through its subsidiary Shiftall. Furthermore, indiciations show that the new headset MeganeX will be to test market fit for Panasonic to further establish a presence in the VR market. The MeganeX is expected to be available from Spring 2022 and is priced at $900.

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