Sony has released a new trailer ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Games Show showing off a slick, new head-mounted augmented reality display unit. The device seems to be a new version of Sony’s $500 HMZ 3D headset, which was released last year. What’s different in the new version, however, seems to be an in-built front-facing camera. It’s expected that the device will also act as a virtual reality headset.

We expect the camera can be used to capture footage that the device can use to overlay AR images. The mounted camera may let the wearer see his surroundings in augmented reality, much like Google’s Project Glass. The video, which is in Japanese, appears to state that the device is called the PROTOTYPE-SR and that the device may well be introduced at the Tokyo Games Show.

Take a look at the trailer.

Members of the NeoGAF forums have provided a rough translation of the text within the video:
People, how far immersive?
It experiments explore the possibility of new entertainment
“Institute immersive pleasure HMZ” head mounted display
Has been developed for the open experiment, models with head tracking system / live camera
Tokyo Game Show head-mounted display “PROTOTYPE-SR” Limited 2012 Specifications
Jointly developed with RIKEN team Fujii
New 360 degree immersive entertainment sensation
World of the music of the movie world flew in to the real world.”

Interest in such augmented reality devices is increasing steadily, with companies such as Oculus Rift and Google working on bringing wearable tech to the general populace. Gaming companies id Software and Valve are also reported to be building gaming headsets of their own.

The software company Valve, one of the largest players in digital distribution of games, recently revealed details about its plans to come up with a wearable gaming headset. Valve, in an interview with The New York Times, revealed that it was testing an NVIS gaming headset which more or less works like Google’s Project Glass. The headset is part of a wearable computing project headed by Michael Abrash.

Abrash is quoted as saying that such gaming headsets could be three to five years away, but virtual reality glasses could be here much sooner. Valve has not decided whether it’ll build the glasses itself.

Such gaming headsets may face greater technical challenges as compared to Google’s Project Glass, which are expected to mainly display texts and video. Valve and its counterparts may face challenges such as keeping an image stable when overlaid over a real world object, failing which the illusion may be destroyed.

Valve recently stated in a job listing for the post of an industrial designer that it is “jumping in” the computer hardware business. The listing adds that Valve is “frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space” and sees “a real void in the marketplace.” Valve also seems to think that opportunities to create compelling user experiences are “being overlooked”.

“Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked,” the post reads.

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