With wearables like Google Glass approaching the consumer market, and predictions that the segment as a whole could be a $50bn business in just a few years time, OmniVision is wading in with a shortcut for companies wanting to launch their own head-mounted computer. Consisting of a tiny head-worn display, camera, and image processor, the OmniGlass reference design is intended to be a one-stop way of putting digital content and augmented reality onto users' faces.
The OmniGlass system is made up of OmniVision's OVP2200 LCOS display, capable of projecting a 1280 x 720 image on a 0.26-inch panel. It's hooked up to the company's OVP921 companion chip, which can connect with WiFi and Bluetooth radios, and drives the display from 24-bit RGB, MIPI, or USB sources. It also handles all the video input scaling, any frame rate correction required, and keystone correction.
Integrated into the eyepiece is a 4-megapixel camera, with autofocus and 720p HD video recording. That's one megapixel down from Google's Glass, though it's worth remembering that Glass uses a fixed-focus camera.
OmniVision is positioning the OmniGlass system as suitable for everything from smartphone companions for the mainstream market, through to sports wearables such as the market Recon Instruments is aiming for, and finally to more specialist medical uses.
The display section of any head-worn device is usually the most expensive, since it's the component that most diverges from what parts we're used to seeing in smartphones and tablets. In Google's Glass, for instance, the bulk of the components are akin to what you'd find in a low-cost Android phone, but the eyepiece is a special part running at 640 x 360.
OmniVision won't tell us exactly how much it intends to charge OEMs for the OmniGlass once volume production begins in Q2 2014, and nor will it guesstimate what sort of pricing wearables based on the reference design might command once they hit the market. It's sampling to interested parties now.