Three external displays is the latest crazy VR headset idea

The triple-screen display allows other people to interact with the game and the player.

May 17, 2017

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The triple-screen display allows other people to interact with the game and the player.

A demonstration of the FaceDisplay shows how another person can play the game with a friend without a separate headset. (Source: ACM SIGCHI/YouTube)

The VR industry is rapidly maturing but it hasn't caught fire with the average consumer yet. A lot of innovation is being done to see what sticks in the market, though, and it's having some interesting results. Some new ways of interacting with VR technology were shown off at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Denver. The most eye-catching was probably the triple-display VR headset that allows people other than the wearer to interact with a game.

The FaceDisplay was created by designers at Ulm University in Germany. Three large touch screens on the outside of the headset allow other players to see the VR environment and interact with the game themselves. This is certainly a creative way to introduce a new form of multiplayer gaming in VR, but the result in a demonstration video suggests the concept could still use some work.

Other players in the room can interact with the person by reaching up and tapping on the screen, but tapping on a player's face is not the most natural way to play a video game. The additional screens also add a cost to the headsets. That would make this kind of headset in its current form a hard sell.

Perhaps the technology is being underestimated, though. With the rate at which VR technology is maturing, someone might come up with a more useful way of using a headset with screens on the outside.

The FaceDisplay headset isn't the only new VR technology that showed up at the conference. IEEE Spectrum compiled a list of new devices and technology, some of which are probably more practical than FaceDisplay. These include a device that puts pressure on fingertips to simulate touch in a VR environment and a headset that simulates wind and thermal stimuli.

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