Why Do VR and AR Headsets Hate My Prescription Glasses Now? #GeekLeap

I used to be at HTC’s demo of the brand new Vive XR Elite headset on the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, able to expertise the smallest-looking, combined reality-capable pair of VR goggles I’ve ever seen. Nicely, I attempted. I used to be requested to take my glasses off, as a result of — don’t be concerned, I used to be advised — this {hardware} has its personal prescription adjustment dials inside. I knew what would occur subsequent, as a result of I’ve seen this story occur over and over and over earlier than. 

The XR Elite stops at -6. I am a -8.25. In prescription language, meaning my excessive nearsightedness is not supported.

So I performed blurry VR till I attempted cramming my chunky glasses semisuccessfully inside… which solely made my face harm.  

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Tremendous Small Vive XR Elite Would not Fairly Work For My Eyes


Everybody needs to get their massive, cumbersome, bizarre VR and AR {hardware} shrunk right down to seem like common glasses. There’s one catch to that: For those who do it, then they turn out to be your glasses now. And in the event that they’re your glasses, they should work together with your prescription. 

I’ve tried to crack open this puzzle field of wearable eye gear since Google Glass got here on the scene. I’ve actually unhealthy myopia. I like sporting glasses. To check Google Glass means again in 2013, I needed to put on contacts. 

Inside a pair of VR goggles, showing lenses and a dial with numbers on the outside

The within of the Vive XR Elite: Prescription changes permit a variety of imaginative and prescient to suit… however not huge sufficient for mine.

Scott Stein/CNET

My eyes are a tough match for VR and AR

I’ve written about this earlier than, many occasions the truth is. And but, within the VR period of 2016-22, I used to be granted a reprieve. VR {hardware} discovered to relaxation over my glasses, largely, permitting me to attempt all kinds of tech (even the HoloLens 2 and Meta Quest Professional) and expertise them in sharp focus. Some headsets nonetheless assist glasses nicely: the Lynx-R1, a combined actuality headset I simply tried, has a easy flip-down visor that was excellent for me and my massive glasses. The PlayStation VR 2 can be completely designed to accommodate my imaginative and prescient wants, with a big rubberized space I can relaxation my glasses into.

However I sense an issue coming, not less than for me. At CES 2023, I introduced a smaller pair of glasses that match higher into VR headsets, however didn’t convey contact lenses. I did not need to put my fingers into my eyes at a flu- and COVID-spreading tremendous present. Would you? I knew issues may get bizarre. And sure, it seems, many glasses and headsets are turning to prescription inserts now. And most of them cap out at -8, slightly below what I would like. 

This occurred with Magic Leap 2. It occurred with Vuzix. It occurred with TCL with its VR headset. Am I going to need to be Contact Lens Man now?

To make certain, my drawback is particular to my extraordinarily unhealthy imaginative and prescient, and it is taking place in demos the place correct prescription matches cannot be assured. A way forward for prescription companies for headsets appears to be like like it could be coming quick. Perhaps getting the suitable lenses might be straightforward. That can nonetheless imply, nevertheless, that I’ve to get new lenses for each single headset I put on (a common match appears unlikely), and it additionally means I will not have the ability to demo {hardware} until they magically have what I would like. 

TCL glasses on my face

Attempting TCL’s latest AR glasses in Vegas: They’ve prescription lenses, however not less than within the demo space they did not fairly match my very own wants. I am nonetheless a little bit of an outlier.

Scott Stein/CNET

You might need the identical drawback

It is maybe an even bigger drawback than my demo-specific, tech journalist complaints. The Vive XR Elite was a deliberate choice on a path to get smaller, and I have been advised that the priority about greater prescription ranges is basically an outlier concern. Perhaps corporations are attempting to make their {hardware} smaller at any price, hoping that because it lastly turns into mass-market in a couple of years, the lens state of affairs will magically determine itself out. Within the meantime, I see a way forward for dearer {hardware} that is much less accessible. Not a very good mixture for an business that is making an attempt arduous to not drive individuals away. 

Apple could also be going through this identical challenge, primarily based on stories that its VR and AR headset will even have prescription inserts. Apple higher determine it out. It could make sense for the corporate to turn out to be like Warby Parker, and actually flip Apple Shops into optical retailers like North did with its Focals glasses earlier than being acquired by Google. 

Common optical retailers aren’t the reply. Meta’s Ray Ban Tales cannot be serviced to swap lenses regardless of being bought at LensCrafters. I do know: I attempted, with prescription lenses in hand that Meta despatched to me to check. I used to be turned away. 

I simply hope the state of affairs improves, as a result of I am fearful about how I am going to expertise the following wave of VR/AR gadgets if I am unable to put on them over my eyes. And even when I am an outlier, I do know I will not be the one one. 

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