Update: Another video from CeBIT has the rep stating the the head-tracking hardware runs an additional €100, but it still isn’t clear if this is third-party or being offered directly from Carl Zeiss. I’ve put the question out to Zeiss and will update when I hear back.

Carl Zeiss is working on an HMD called the Cinemizer which will be available this July, according to the company. The Cinemizer is a 3D-capable head mounted display with dual 870×500 OLED displays. My friends and boss Chippy, from UltrabookNews.com et al, was kind enough to record a hands-on video with the Cinemizer that Carl Zeiss showed off this week at CeBIT 2012. Jump into the article to take a look.

Sascha Pallenberg of NetbookNews.de is the guinea pig!

You’ll hear Chippy mention that this is a “$19,000 system…” but that figure includes much more than the Cinemizer HMD itself — I’m fairly certain that’s the entire setup (HMD, powerful desktop computer, head tracking hardware, etc.). As far as I can see, the head tracking system is not built-into the Cinemizer, but is instead probably added with third-party hardware such as the TrackIR 5 system.

The Cinemizer is actually available for pre-order and is currently priced at  €649, which is around $861. That price makes the not-quite-HD Cinemizer a tough sell next to the 720p Sony HMZ-T1 ($799) and 1080p Silicon Micro Display ST1080 ($799, or $699 during pre-order period). However, the price listed includes a hefty 19% VAT, which might be avoidable if Zeiss distributes through other means. Without the 19% tax, the Cinemizer would be €525 or $696, which would make it a bit more affordable, but still not very attractive given the competition.

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In the video can see Sascha walk through a series of virtual environments, and it is apparent from the emotion on his face that he is getting a visceral experience out of the simulation. At the end, he sums it all up when prompted about the experience:

Intense. Definitely different compared to the architecture version… especially with the sound effects; sound is so important, and if you would combine this with any kind of moving platform or something, that would be almost 99% real. You just need the image and decent sound, and maybe a little bit of physical feedback, and it works.

Sascha would be happy to know that such moving platforms exist — see more about omni-directional treadmills here.

The Cinemizer, which has a 30 degree field of view, differs from the ST1080 and HMZ-T1 in that it has a built-in battery which the company says will power the HMD for up to 6 hours.

We’ll keep our eyes out come July to see how the Cinemizer stands up to the competition. The more the merrier, I say!

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."