Feature Design Sony Head Mounted Display HMZ-T1
Head Mounted Display “Personal 3D Viewer” HMZ-T1

The big effort behind a smaller appearance

Yoshiaki Kumagai

Hosoda:As we designed the conceptual model for CES, we moved ahead in developing a production model that was closer to becoming a commercial reality. We chose a promising proposal with clean lines and a simple structure that had as much impact as the CES model. With this as our ideal image, we started refining aspects of the design. Our ideal viewer would seem light yet solid; it would make a good first impression and look futuristic.

A sleek, light viewer proved challenging. Without some ingenuity on our part, the sides would look thick and heavy. Stable support requires just enough pressure against your head, but we had to avoid having the headphones clamp down uncomfortably on your ears. Striking a good balance between these conflicting needs in form and function was difficult.

I had a flash of inspiration that helped us move on. After I sketched our ideal slimness for the sides, I stopped to consider how the strip that seems to wrap around your head is separate from the strip that merges with the headphones. To keep the unit looking trim, we could extend the headphone strip laterally as needed. A change of color here would enhance the slimness on the sides. The solution was a good match, in form and function. Finally, we could imagine how the viewer would ultimately look.

Our last task, as you can guess, was to arrange the internal components efficiently. Both the lens unit and the circuit board were rectangular. Without some modification, they would make the front of the viewer blocky. Somehow we needed to round off the corners, to keep the viewer looking sleek, light, and easy to wear. Requesting circuit board trimming, special mounting to keep screw heads flush, and so on required close collaboration with our engineers.

Careful design in every detail

Kumagai:Look closely when you pick up a viewer, and you'll appreciate some of the design details. To create the flowing contours from the lens unit in front to the temples on each side, we had to combine materials. Similarly, integrating a headband lock into the slim temple was no easy matter.

If practicality were our only requirement, the kind of band you see on diving goggles would have been sufficient-and easily adjustable, at that. There's also no practical reason to make the inner surfaces against your face so carefully curved, and you can't even see the blue LED lighting on front when wearing the viewer. But these were the details Yasuhide and I refused to compromise on. We sought a highly polished product in many ways.

Futuristic pearl white

Makiko Kawai

Kawai:As the shape of the viewer became clear, we began turning our attention to color. Here, we're usually guided by a regard for our potential customers, but in this case, no market even existed yet. We had to take a closer look at how the viewer might be used and the potential it held.

Beige in a stylish hue might satisfy the target users of family-oriented products. For AV or IT enthusiasts or gamers, two-tone black would be a cutting-edge option. After consulting our regional offices around the world to try to accommodate their opinions, we decided that the viewer should look futuristic and make a great impression. Above all, we knew the color we chose would signal the advent of a truly impressive and unprecedented head-mounted display.

This led us to choose a combination of pearl white and black. I recalled how seeing Yasuhide's sketches for the first time made me muse on spaceships and other things of the near future. Pearl white accentuates the graceful curves when it catches the light, and its subtle blue cast harmonizes with the blue LED.

Some people may dislike noticeable iridescence, so we toned it down, adjusting the composition of the paint in 0.1% increments.

For the parts in black, we carefully matched the shade of black paint and the shade of materials originally in black. Material colors are usually difficult to adjust, but persistence in collaboration with our engineers paid off in the end.

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