Thinnest VR headset in the world looks exactly like a pair of sunglasses and weighs just 37 grams

If the EM3 Ether is any indication, the future of the metaverse will have incredibly sleek VR glasses that don’t look like toasters attached to your face.

At first glance, it’s possible that you wouldn’t even notice that the person above was wearing VR glasses. Debuted in Beijing by VR startup EM3 Technology, the Ether currently holds the mantle of the world’s slimmest and lightest VR headset. It looks exactly like an ordinary pair of sunglasses and sits on your face just like one too, but behind that seemingly ordinary veneer is a cutting-edge near-eye optical display system powered by two cameras located on the front of the glasses.

For now, the Ether is a proof of concept for how slim and lightweight a VR headset can be. With current headsets like the Oculus Quest weighing well over 2 kilograms (4.56 lbs), the Ether is radically lighter, weighing a mere 37 grams (0.08 lbs) – roughly the same as your average pair of Ray-Ban wayfarers. This, EM3 believes, will allow more people to wear VR headsets for longer without developing fatigue caused by heavy gear.

The EM3 Ether prototype glass contains two micro-displays, 2560×2560 pixel resolution in full color. For now, the glasses offer a FOV (field of view) of 80° per eye, although EM3 claims that by using a larger format micro-display, the FOV can be pushed up to 100° without seeing any increase in the thickness of the glasses – which measure a record-setting 6.8mm for now.

Given how incredibly slim Ether prototype is (they’re thinner than most phones), it currently doesn’t have the processing capabilities to operate as a standalone VR headset and needs to be tethered to an external device like a smartphone or PC. Nevertheless, Ether sets a benchmark for what to expect in the future and EM3 has announced that a retail model of the VR glasses will probably be ready at the end of 2022. The implications for the technology, however, are far-reaching as companies like Facebook have announced a hard pivot into the metaverse, while there have been rumblings in the past few years that Apple’s been working on their own sleek VR headsets too. Seems like 2022’s going be a pretty interesting year for virtual reality and the metaverse!

Designer: Beijing EM3 Technology Co. Ltd.