In Depth

Dlodlo V1: Do virtual reality sunglasses actually work?

VR headsets are set to go on sale in October but is the concept flawed?

160811-glasses.jpg

Virtual reality is finally heading our way thanks to the launch of headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the upcoming PlayStation VR, a device many are tipping to be the first VR headset with mass appeal.

These first generation consumer headsets have several things in common. Their shoebox style is bulky, while the headsets tend to be on the heavy side and very conspicuous. Strap a HTC Vive onto your face, and your head will be swinging over half a kilogram around while you take in your virtual world.

A new device by the Chinese firm Dlodlo breaks the mould. The V1 headset set to be launched by the firm this October for $559 (£430) is designed to look like a pair of sunglasses and to be worn in the same way.

The virtual reality spectacles aren't as slim as a normal pair of sunglasses – think overgrown 1980s shades – but at just 88g, the device is much smaller and lighter than the mainstream headsets most VR fans covet.

The small size isn't achieved through smaller, underpowered components. Each eye gets a 1200x1200 display, bigger than the resolution on HTC's Vive, regarded by many as the best of the current VR headsets. A 105 degree field of view is accompanied by a 90Hz refresh rate. On paper this should provide a compelling experience once the lenses are over your eyes.

This isn't a standalone VR device as it still uses wires and a PC to power the experiences you'll see on the screens. The company has plans to take full advantage of the V1's small, portable size in the near future.

If the headset meets its October launch window, a secondary device will follow soon after. Called the Dlodlo D1, it's an iPhone-like slate running a custom OS built on Android 5.0 Lollipop and packing 4GB RAM. It's designed specifically to be used with the VR eyewear.

Attaching it provides processing power for the headset and serves as a second screen for selecting games, films and experiences to be played through the lenses. The D1 has the potential to be a truly portable high quality VR headset as the smartphone-like device and V1 glasses are small enough to be carried in a bag.

As Pocket Lint points out, the D1 will come with 139 3D movies and 79 games. The company has plans to expand its VR library over time and there are also plans to allow the glasses to work with Android and iOS devices.

However, after trying it out, The Verge says the stylish device may have one or two flaws.

While it's much lighter thanks to its glasses-inspired shape, and the hardware creates a credible VR experience, it's not such a great idea to develop a VR headset around this style-conscious premise. Chunky, shoebox style headsets have numerous adjustable straps, essentially making them one size fits all – the same cannot be said of the glasses-shaped V1. Some will find that the goggles fall off far too easily.

Slashgear concludes that while virtual reality devices need to get smaller and lighter, turning them into glasses isn't perhaps the future after all.

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