OLED microdisplay manufacturer eMagin has announced a new VR headset, a small form factor pair of goggles that boast a 2K×2K display. Sounds interesting? It was to John Carmack.

Dan Cui, eMagin’s VP of Business Development and HMDs, sent out a tweet last Thursday that got the attention of the VR community, evening piquing the interest of Oculus CTO and VR guru John Carmack.

Besides the fact that the marketing material makes it look like an add for Nerf straight from 1995, Carmack said the prototype “sounds neat” and that eMagin’s microdisplays “have some advantages (120 hz and no two-frame rise), but I never saw a wide FOV HMD.”

Carmack is likely referencing his 2012 work with the displays, saying that the company’s 1920x1200x2 display set were “completely distortion free across the entire view,” and that he also got the dual 1280×1024 eMagin OLEDs running at 120 hz.

Cui later requested a private talk with Carmack so they could speak more candidly on info about the device.

As for the rest of us, the only known information we have was gleaned through a series of tweets where Cui fielded questions from the community. This is what we know about the VR headset so far:


eMagin Prototype VR Headset Specs

  • 2K×2K resolution microdisplays (square shaped)
  • 80 degree horizontal and vertical FOV (~100 diagonal)
  • ‘flip-up’ design
  • adjustable IPD and diopter settings
  • electronics integrated into wearable ‘puck’
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eMagin primarily produces displays targeting military applications, but also makes a consumer headset, the Z800 3DVisor, an aging SVGA-resolution microdisplay headset (40 degree FOV) still in production since 2005. We’re hoping the new prototype device can refresh eMagin’s consumer offerings, and bring it closer to the low-latency VR we’ve come to expect from Oculus and Valve respectively.

Cui also announced that he would be demoing the prototype (by reservation only) at the SID Expo and at AWE 2015, both in early June. We’ll have our eyes out for reviews, previews, and (hopefully) some better marketing material. Because the garish hype of the 90s is something VR desperately wants to forget.


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  • SuperDre

    This looks great, I love the flip-up, it was also one of the best things about the forte VFX-1..

  • mellott124

    Awesome. Lets hope it’s less than $5k as 2k x 2k eMagin displays can’t be cheap.

  • Hmm. AS they list 80 degrees in vertical and horizontal FoV, but 100 degrees in diagonal, either the exit pupil is a square with rounded corners or they’re doing like ANTVR and stretch the image optically.

    Or have I misunderstood this? I mean, if the exit pupil was a perfect circle, all three FoV values would be the same, right?

    • Eh, accidental capitalisation, sorry about that :P

  • spark

    Your quote ” … the Z800 3DVisor, an aging SVGA-resolution microdisplay headset (40 degree FOV) still in production since 2005. ” seems to be incorrect.

    It appears the Z800 has been discontinued.

    If eMagin were smart, they would incorporate some kind of default upscaling on the board as most graphics cards would struggle to output 4K stereo at proper framerates.

  • spark

    Looks like we should thank the US Government and the US Navy for funding the development of the avionics version of these 2k x 2k emagin OLED displays.

    I believe emagin knew from the beginning what they were going to do with these displays.

    Read this – http://ir.emagin.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=96135&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1721618

    Quote: “This is a key award for eMagin as it is expected this work will result in the ability to produce a greatly improved microdisplay solution and therefore increase the use of eMagin’s OLED microdisplays in demanding avionics applications with potential commercial applications as well,” remarked Andrew Sculley, president and chief executive officer of eMagin. “The brightness, resolution and the color gamut will be outstanding and a significant upgrade from what is currently available from any microdisplay producer. eMagin is very pleased to continue this important work with the NVESD and the U.S. Navy.”

    Taxpayer money well spent I’d say.

  • spark

    This eMagin earnings call transcript from November 2014 makes for SOME VERY INTERESTING READING with regard to the new eMagin head mounted displays.

    eMagin’s (EMAN) CEO Andrew Sculley on Q3 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript


    Pages 1 to 7 is all good.

  • trashcanman

    eMagin and Google at The Society for Information Display (SID) Conference

    Sidney Chang , Google Head of Business Development , Android Wear ( previously Google Principal Business Development, Google Glass )



    Margaret Kohin , eMagin SVP Business Development


    Speak side by side at the upcoming SID Conference – Special Wearables Addresses


    Is there a partnership in the works between these 2 Business Development Executives ?

    At the very least I would expect Sidney Chang to have the opportunity to demo the new eMagin IHMD that will be shown by Dan Cui at the Conference :

    Dan Cui Tweet :

    No BS, we’ll be demoing it (suite invite) at SID in San Jose in a couple of weeks


  • spark

    Likewise, the latest, very recent eMagin Q1 May 2015 Earnings Call Transcript

    eMagin’s (EMAN) CEO Andrew Sculley on Q1 2015 Results – Earnings Call Transcript


    Pages 1 to 8.

  • trashcanman
  • spark

    I figure if I am interested in something then other people may well be.

    As for the information, the best place to start is the obvious places.

    That being the official source – the eMagin company website and its public filings.

    It is amazing that so many people blog about this subject elsewhere and are unaware of this factual information.

    Also amazing is Road To VR being pasted left and right with Oculus stuff and eMagin stuff is being deep-sixed very quickly.

    That will surely change.

    • Scott Hayden

      Excellent observation, spark. However the information on the official website is much more recent than this article. When written back in mid-May, we only had some tweets to go on. Once we actually get our hands on the device, we should have a bevy of updated information!

  • spark

    I too, was caught out by the release of the new eMagin visor (the minion) – by a few days.

    By then the ‘reddit wars’ were underway, and then I found the detailed information posted above.

    I look forward to your reveal.

    Note: I am not affiliated with anyone, but I do own a z800. Ten years does go quickly.