Background: Very small high-resolution displays (SVGA, 800 x 600 pixels) worn near the eye and imaged to create a virtual image have potential as alternatives to traditional computer displays.
Methods: Twenty-two subjects performed text-based tasks on five displays: monocular virtual, binocular head-mounted virtual, hard copy, flat panel, and a small format portable display. Outcome measures included performance speed, symptoms, visual acuity, and heterophoria. In a second experiment, subjects performed a proscribed routine of head and body movements designed to elicit motion-related symptoms.
Results: Performance speed on monocular virtual was generally comparable with performances on flat panel and hard copy. Overall, performance speeds on the binocular virtual display were about 5% slower than normalized performances, 6.75% slower compared with the traditional flat panel and hard copy displays. Symptoms of eyestrain and blurry vision were significantly higher on monocular virtual than on other displays. No significant changes in visual acuity or heterophoria occurred with any of the displays. Motion-related symptoms with the head mounted near-eye display were not significantly different than with other displays tested.
Conclusions: Performance and comfort on the near-eye displays in this study was more similar to traditional displays than in many previous studies with head mounted displays. This is likely due to lack of task movement, partial instead of full immersion, better display resolution, and concordance of the accommodative and vergence stimuli.