THX announced that it has partnered with Osterhout Design Group (ODG) on a new smartglass certification program that's supposed to "to pave the way for excellence in headworn devices." ODG's R-9 glasses will be the first product to bear the certification when they're released.
The companies said in their announcement that this program will "ensure that the R-9 glasses, and any future devices that are certified, are calibrated to the same color and resolution standards that are used in professional Hollywood studios." That's what THX is all about. George Lucas founded the company in 1983 to ensure that "Star Wars: Episode V--The Empire Strikes Back" and other films would be supported by high-quality audiovisual equipment in theaters. The company has since branched out into certifying everything from consumer electronics to car systems.
THX CRO Bill Rusitzky explained the company's decision to expand to smartglass certification:
"Augmented reality is the future of audio and visual advancement. We chose to partner with ODG to certify their product's best-in-class cinematic experience because we are dedicated to establishing high standards in next-generation technologies, as we have achieved with existing technologies over the past 30 years. We are excited to continue this commitment to consumers, and come together with ODG to deliver premium AV experiences in a very new way."
And what does ODG get out of the partnership? Well, the ability to say that its high-tech spectacles received a stamp of approval from one of the most high-profile certification companies in the biz. That could help convince skeptics that the R-9, which promise "no visible pixels and the ability to read 8-point font with photo-realistic clarity" as well as 6DoF tracking and other features, will be able to deliver. We didn't quite get that impression when we went hands-on at CES 2017, but we did think ODG was helping Qualcomm establish itself as a "dark horse" of XR.
Here's what companies like ODG have to build into their products in order for them to get THX's new certification:
THX tests for color accuracy, video processing, grayscale quality and visual geometry to ensure the perfect viewing experience. THX certification also guarantees smooth video playback without stuttering or motion artifacts, which might disrupt the truthful expression of the artist's original vision.
We'll see how closely those tests reflect real-life performance when the R-9 debuts. That was supposed to happen in Spring 2017, but that season is all but over. ODG said on its website that it expects to ship the R-9 glasses in 2017, though, so it might not be too far away. The company will also show off (or, rather, has been showing off) the R-9 and other products at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara from May 31-June 2.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.
I'd be interested in knowing more about how they intend to standardize motion tracking quality.Reply
As for the rest, I don't really care except for geometry, color, & greyscale accuracy. In augmented reality, it does actually matter how CG objects look relative to their surroundings. A poor quality, uncalibrated display can surely affect the experience (and much worse than simply watching a movie on a non-THX certified screen, IMO).
It's not that I don't care about smooth video playback, but they're only talking about playback of video files/streams - not about AR apps.