CES 2023: The future of Metaverse and VR depends on these glasses-free 3D displays

Metaverse. Metaverse. Metaverse.

It seems like half the companies at CES this year were all on board with the buzzword that is Metaverse. And along with the metaverse, virtual reality was all the rage at CES this year as well. There were countless prototypes for wearables that attach to your face and immerse you in virtual worlds where you can see, feel and in some cases even smell your cyber surroundings.

While Metaverse was being touted as the next big thing in tech at CES, one more virtual reality technology at the show seemed like the real revolutionary immersive 3D technology: glasses-free 3D displays and TVs.

That’s right, 3D monitors that did it not requires 3D glasses – and the visuals looked incredible. In fact, it seemed obvious that for Metaverse and VR to actually become the mainstream, everyday technology that so many companies hope for, they would need glasses-free 3D displays and TVs to succeed.

Breylon headset-free 3D displays

Breylon’s headset-free 3D screens. The Breylon Fusion debuted at CES and can be seen in the background.
Credit: Matt Binder/Mashable

Brelyon was a company I came across at CES in this space. An MIT spin-off, Breylon makes headset-free virtual displays and was at the event showing off a prototype for its new VR display. This prototype has a rounded shape like a VR headset, but you don’t actually use it. It’s way too big to do that anyway – it’s a full-on 8K OLED panoramic desktop display. The company calls it the Brelyon Fusion and says it has the world’s largest field of view for an OLED screen. And it sure felt like it when you stood in front of the screen.

So is the Breylon Fusion actually any good?

The Breylon Fusion’s visuals were incredible. The picture was clear and the colors were rich. It looked unlike any 3D image I’ve ever seen. Usually, when I watch a 3D movie that requires glasses, the visuals just don’t seem as sharp as in 2D to me. Another problem is that I find that I often have to take off my glasses when my eyes start to strain. Sometimes I even want to catch myself walking across. I experienced none of that while watching these glasses-free 3D displays.

And Breylon had other, equally impressive monitors to show off as well. One of their products basically layered visual images on top of each other to create the most real 3D image I’ve ever seen. The best way to explain it is to imagine the visuals on the headset screen when Tony Stark dons the Iron Man helmet in the Marvel movies. Now imagine being able to see these overlays on top of other wallpapers – but without having to wear a helmet or glasses or anything at all.

Breylon’s products are not currently available to consumers, and as of now they are priced in the five-figure range. But I came across another headset-free 3D screen from a company called 3D game market says it will release its consumer monitor, called 3DGMin the coming months — and at a price point under $2,000.

3D screen without 3DGM glasses

The 3DGM glasses-free 3D monitor from 3D Gaming Market.
Credit: Matt Binder/Mashable

3DGM is a 32-inch 4K glasses-free 3D desktop monitor that doesn’t even necessarily require you to stand directly in front of the screen. 3D Game Market says the screen is equipped with AI eye-tracking technology that optimizes the 3D images to match where you’re standing. And it looked very good.

(It’s important to note here that the way glasses-free 3D display technology works makes it pretty much impossible to capture on camera. So, unfortunately, readers, you won’t be able to experience the 3D images in the images of the displays we’ve included. Hopefully, you will soon have a chance to experience it for yourself!)

How do the 3DGM and Breylon 3D monitors compare?

One difference between 3DGM and the Breylon model of devices was that 3DGM felt more like the traditional type of 3D one would experience in 3D cinemas – just without the glasses, of course. The visuals were not as sharp as Breylon’s screens. And looking at the Breylon screens, it felt like the 3D images were created by going deeper and deeper into the screen. Sometimes I couldn’t tell how close I was to the actual Breylon monitor. However, the 3DGM felt like the images popped right out off the screen and coming towards me.

This is not a knock on 3DGM at all. It’s clear that each company uses different methods to create glasses-free 3D TV. Breylon’s version may have a bit more of a wow factor, but unlike Breylon, if 3DGM’s current plans come to fruition, the company is going to have its monitor out soon and at a price that consumers can actually afford.

And it’s not just new companies working on glasses-free 3D either. While I wasn’t watching, our friends came over at PCMag also reported a new Asus gaming laptop that comes with a headset-free 3D display built-in.

It should be pretty clear why VR and the Metaverse have yet to take off in the way that many companies have hoped. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has lost billions focuses on its virtual reality platform — and it’s the company that basically started this whole current Metaverse trend. Right now, it’s hard to imagine people wearing clunky VR glasses and using it as a normal device for everyday use. Imagine if users, instead of having to strap on bulky headgear, could simply hop down in front of the screen and enter virtual reality Metaverses the same way they browse any other part of the internet.

While in Las Vegas for CES, I came across a store that made the whole thing crystal clear. Right there on the Vegas Strip was a business marketing virtual reality experiences to tourists. The marketing images showed cartoon images of people wearing headsets, not unlike Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset.

In the year 2023, virtual reality is still, well, very gimmicky. If companies want their immersive virtual worlds to go beyond just a tourist attraction, that success depends on 3D displays taking off. Until then, Metaverse is stuck with the headsets that not too many want to wear.

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