Olympus wearable modular camera tipped

May 21, 2013
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Olympus has wearable display plans of its own, a new patent reveals, effectively splitting a digital camera into two pieces - eye-worn screen and imaging unit - for more flexibility in photography. The patent, "Camera and Wearable Image Display Apparatus", describes a monocular eye-piece display that connects wirelessly to a camera body, clicking into image preview and review mode when the camera is held still to take one or more photos.

Where Google Glass counts photography as one of its abilities, with the display used at other times to show notifications, navigation directions, and other information, Olympus' wearable would be much more focused. Rather than trading some clarity for transparency, as Glass has done, the Olympus eyepiece would use a moveable shutter which could selectively block out external light and so provide the sort of clear, virtual large-screen display necessary for accurately reviewing shots.

The camera section would use a vibration sensor, Olympus suggests in its filing, to decide whether it could trigger the eyepiece functionality. By having the display right in front of your eye, it suggests, blurry or fast movements from the camera could lead to discomfort if piped through to the display all the time.

Instead, it's only when the camera is held still - as you would when framing a shot - that the display kicks into camera mode. By splitting the parts up, the camera itself could be lighter and more easily pocketed.

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It also means greater flexibility in how photos can be framed, Olympus suggests. Shots could be taken from above the photographer's head, or from below, or the side, while still allowing for a clear preview. Meanwhile multiple sequential shots - such as panning to shoot several images of a moving subject - could be taken by only moving the camera, allowing the photographer to stay still and more stable.

This isn't the first time Olympus has flirted with wearable tech. Last year, the company revealed a more direct Google Glass competitor, the MEG4.0, a head-mounted computer which could be used as a remote display for a Bluetooth-tethered smartphone. Another recently published patent application, Egami reports, shows a more glasses-like headset with greater flexibility for adjustment than Google's version, as well as a mounting point for a camera.

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The "unconverged camera" approach is more specific than the MEG4.0, but arguably more applicable to Olympus' core audience. Whether it will ever spawn a production model remains to be seen, however, though it's entirely possible that a somewhat hacked-together version using something like the MEG4.0 or indeed Glass could be assembled using a head-mounted display as a remote screen for a wirelessly-enabled camera.

VIA: 43 Rumors


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