The MovieMask Portable Cinema HMD

MovieMask (Oslo, Norway) is developing the next offerings in the company’s “portable cinema” line of HMD products.

The original idea behind the MovieMask was the thought that “today’s media consumption is more and more mobile driven. However, what we have gained in mobility, we have lost in experience.”

To address this issue, the MovieMask adopted an HMD design approach in which the “mobile screen is enlarged and compensation is included for the close up viewing distance.” The company claims that if a product were to “Combine these two factors, and it suddenly will feel like you are sitting in the front row of a cinema.”

First, a few words on the background to the technology.

In a conventional virtual reality smartphone based HMD, the display needs to be split down the middle when showing a movie in order to present a separate image to each eye. It follows that even a smartphone with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 can only provide a maximum resolution of 960 x 1080 to each eye. The trouble is, however, that this aspect ratio is quite different from the aspect ratio of conventional 2D movies. In order to present the movie with the correct aspect ratio (typically 16:9 in a digital video version), the resolution of the image has to be reduced to about 960 x 540. The bottom line is that in a conventional VR HMD, the resolution of the movie ends up to be about 1/4 that of the smartphone’s original resolution. In addition, the manipulation of the image resolution requires the use of a special app.

MovieMask uses a different optical approach. The screen is not split, the same image is provided to both eyes. As a result, the MovieMask is able to give the user a full resolution 2D image of a conventional 2D movie and to do so without the need for a special app.

The Company

Next, a few words of background about the company.

MovieMask was founded in May, 2016. In September of that year, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign to prototype their first product, the MovieMask 1.0. The campaign was successful and, over the next 6 months, 30 prototypes were fabricated and tested on over 1000 users.

Last year, the company launched its first product in Norway and delivered over 3000 units. Based on the feedback from this first run, it was determined that it was necessary to improve the product before moving into full production. Several key areas were identified as needing improvement including the following:

  • Better optics.
  • Make the headset adjustable.
  • Make the headset compatible with user worn glasses.
  • Make a cheaper version as well as a portable version of the headset.

Based on these suggestions, the company has developed two new products. The first is the portable, hand held MovieMask Go. This model collapses down to just 55 mm. The second is the MovieMask Premium which provides a slightly larger image and has an adjustable length. The adjustment is intended to enable stress free viewing for people with “minor visual disturbances.” It also includes comfortable face padding and a head strap. These products are illustrated in the figures below. MovieMaskOn the left is the MovieMask GO. On the right is the MovieMask Premium.

A video demonstrating and discussing the MovieMask products can be found at the end of this article.

The MovieMask is compatible with most smartphones that are not wider than 78.1 mm, corresponding to a display screen of about 6.2-inches. This includes all models of iPhone, Samsung S6, S7, S8 and S8 edge. However, some smartphones have a button on the side that will interfere with the mount in the MovieMask. Smartphones in this group include the Sony Xperia and some models made by HTC.

Movies, of course, come with a sound track. The easiest way to get sound in conjunction with a MovieMask is to use the speaker in the smartphone. Since some users may find this unsatisfying, the company suggests the use of a headset.

The company is using an Indiegogo campaign to raise additional funds needed to transition the product into full production. At the start of this campaign, the company reports the following status for their latest HMDs. A functional and mass producible product is already in hand. The MovieMask team members have just been to Shenzhen, China to do a mock assembly of the functional product. With these accomplishments in hand, the company represents that the risk of a failure to deliver product has been greatly reduced.

The campaign can be found here. At the time this article is written,$102,600 has been raised from 1273 backers. This is 1026% of the target $10,000 with 17 days left in the campaign. Based on this strong response, it can be expected that this campaign will be successful. Assuming so, the company plans to ship products before Christmas. -Arthur Berman

MovieMask, +47-91877656