You could soon put your face in a book through e-ink VR headsets
At CES 2023, a start-up will present the first “VR headset” with e-ink displays. What does the virtual reading world of the e-reader headset look like?
VR expert Brad Lynch tested a new type of VR headset at this year’s CES. The headset uses “e-ink” displays, familiar from e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle. Electronic ink isn’t enough to enable real virtual reality. The headset is intended for comfortable and immersive reading of e-books without holding a device in your hand.
Start-up wants to make reading more comfortable
The startup behind the “Sol Reader” e-reader headset is funded in part by a cofounder of Anduril, the company cofounded by defense contractor Palmer Luckey after leaving Oculus. With the e-reader for the face, Sol wants to make reading more comfortable.
— Sol (@solreader) January 4, 2023
Users will be able to browse through e-books lying down without having to hold an e-reader. A small puck-shaped controller allows turning pages with a swipe of the thumb.
E-reader headset with pancake lenses
The Sol Reader is equipped with two e-ink displays (explanation) viewed through pancake lenses. Users adjust the lenses to their own eyes via a slider with diopter settings expected.
The Sol Reader charges via USB-C. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also on board. The headset weighs less than a quarter pound and should have a battery life of about 30 hours. This would make the e-ink headset as long-lasting as current handheld e-readers. By comparison, the new Kindle Scribe with its 10.2-inch display and weighing just under one pound lasts about 40 hours before needing a charge.
Brad Lynch: Resolution needs to be improved
VR expert Brad Lynch, who recently reported on the scheduled development of the Meta Quest 3, tried out the Sol Reader at CES 2023. Lynch describes the view through the lenses, “as if a book was floating above me in a dark room.”
The arms of the headset are a bit short, but the design is convincing when lying down. The headset is pleasantly light and hardly presses on the face. Lynch sees room for improvement in the resolution of the e-ink displays. This is not good enough now, but the manufacturer suggests improvements before public release. The Sol Reader remains in development with no release date.
The approximate price of the e-ink headset is out and is high for a device “only” capable of reading e-books. The start-up wants to charge around $350 for the electronic reading glasses. “Normal” e-readers are already available for less than a third of that.