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My Vufine+ Wearable Display Lets Me Watch NCIS While I Work

03 November 2016

While I am considered a writer that reports on the latest in the technology space, I do not consider myself a tech-savvy human. I’ve been to consumer electronics shows and have written about a plethora of start-up companies and their devices. I have a few computers, some TVs, an iPhone and even a tablet, but no up-and-coming technology products like smart watches or wearable displays. I barely download any applications on my devices, and when I was shopping for a TV recently, I was terrified by the “smart” line. One might say I’m a Millennial that doesn’t quite fit the tech-crazed stereotype.
Enter Vufine+.

Vufine+ is a wearable display (not a computer) developed by a small, creative company dedicated to building simple and accessible wearable technology. The gadget’s primary focus is on the display itself, so it offers a picture quality crisp enough to read text and watch videos. Vufine+ lets you experience real-life picture-in-picture.

For those of you more familiar with Google Glass, let’s take a minute to compare the two devices. Vufine+ is a wearable display, while Google Glass is a wearable computer. Vufine+ connects to your eyeglasses (if you don’t wear glasses, there is a pair in the box for you) and provides a wearable display for existing devices, while Google Glass is a standalone device that offers some applications for access on the actual device. Vufine+ lacks an operating system and doesn’t have a camera, while Google Glass is Android-powered and has a built-in camera.

After staring at the Vufine+ box for a week or two, I decided it was time to eliminate my fear of new technology. I popped it open, which actually required an enormous amount of physical strength and some foul language.
Once I weeded out the components I wouldn’t need, like the Vufine+ accessory band and glasses case, I was left with this:
What’s in the box? An HDMI cable with a micro HDMI connector and a full-size HDMI connector that plugs into anything you’d like to interface with. You can also see the adapter I’m using. What’s in the box? An HDMI cable with a micro HDMI connector and a full-size HDMI connector that plugs into anything you’d like to interface with. You can also see the adapter I’m using.

Using the USB cable, I charged the Vufine+ by plugging it into my computer. In less than an hour, the red charging light disappeared and I was ready to discover what a wearable display had to offer.
Vufine+’s creators boast their product for applications such as a viewfinder for your GoPro camera, a rear-view camera for bicycle riding, or to work alongside your drone so that you can see what the drone sees in real-time, right from your eyes. As you may have suspected, I do not have a drone or a GoPro (though I should probably get my hands on these), so I wasn’t able to test out the perks of these functionalities.
So what, exactly, could I do with the device? During the summer months when the Pokemon Go fad took hold, Vufine+ was said to be a beneficial alternative for those players who refused to look up from their smartphones in order to catch their beloved Pokemon. I, on the other hand, do not play Pokemon Go, so again I found myself wondering what I could do with a Vufine+.
All Vufine+ promises is an extension of your technology, not an overreaching replacement, and that it delivers.
Instead I stuck with what I know. Vufine+ can be used as a wearable viewfinder for any camera, not just GoPros. The company suggests using it as a second monitor to display information like GPS directions or for watching your favorite shows and movies while you’re on the train commuting.

I don’t commute via public transportation so I wasn’t able to test this out, but this made me think about my absolute favorite television show: NCIS.

I started tinkering with Vufine+. I hooked it up to my iPhone and initially had a difficult time viewing the screen without closing my left eye. I even wrote the company a follow-up e-mail asking if they had any tips for me because I was having such difficulty. Then I realized that the tiny display portion that sits in front of the eyeglass lens can be pulled in and out, so a user could adjust it to the ideal position.
According to a company spokesperson, I'm not the only one who has responded to the device in this way initially.
"For some the transition is immediate, for others it takes some getting used to as their brain turns over on viewing content in a novel way," says the spokesperson.
Here’s a tip for anyone who may feel it’s difficult with only a right-eye display: For ideal viewing, turn both your eyes’ attention to the right, even though the actual image is only displayed in one. This helped me to not want to shut my left eye in order to focus.
The company provided me with some viewing suggestions as well:

"We've found closing one eye for a time can help the brain adjust; you can also try viewing the screen against a large blank surface. If neither of those help your viewing experience, it may simply take more time or may not be possible. Vufine+ is able to be used by most people but, as with most VR and AR tech, some users are unable to utilize the technology for a host of reasons. Because Vufine+ is such an experiential tech, we always find it best for people to try it themselves to see exactly how they adjust to the interface."

Once I made that discovery, I decided I’d tune in to a clip of NCIS on YouTube, just for kicks. When I selected the video to watch on my phone, only the actual video appears on my tiny one-eyed screen. So, any text messages I was receiving while playing with my new gadget strictly appeared on my phone— absolutely no interruptions on my display.
For the NCIS-lover in me, that was great; but for the multi-tasker in me, I was disappointed that I couldn’t respond to text messages while watching, as exiting YouTube on my phone caused my Vufine+ to display whatever I was doing on the phone.
While I was playing with my Vufine+, I started receiving e-mails on my computer. I walked over to my desk and began responding, all the while still watching NCIS in my right eye.

Watching NCIS with my Vufine.Watching NCIS with my Vufine.

So, what can I do with Vufine+? Use it to watch NCIS while working, of course. (Note: I do not recommend slacking off during work hours to watch NCIS via Vufine+ device; I am simply explaining my personal favorite part).
Of course, I tested out some other actions using my Vufine+, such as hooking up my GPS to it. This worked very well because I didn’t have to look down for directions, and I even attempted to take some photos using the Vufine+ as a viewfinder, which was successful as well.

As for the fact that you need to be connected via wires, the company admits that there is currently no easy way to handle wireless in line with its product vision.

“The physical size of the necessary components would alter our form factor, severely affect our battery life and bring a whole host of connectivity issues across all devices detracting from our plug and play ethos. We would need to add a pack for an increased battery and PCB that would still be wired to Vufine+ and would increase the cost and realistically decrease the wider connectivity,” according to the Vufine+ spokesperson.

That’s a compromise the company is not willing to make at this time.

Bottom line: as with any technology, it will require some habitual use in order for it to become a part of your daily routine. We are so accustomed to looking down at our phones, tablets, televisions, computers and so forth that the easier solution—just looking straight ahead—may actually require some getting used to.
Nonetheless Vufine+ delivers on its functionalities and allows me to watch my favorite TV show while doing other things. I think tonight I’ll use it while I’m doing the dishes—yes, manually doing the dishes— because technology like a dishwasher is not the norm for me.

Nicolette Emmino is a technology writer and word lover with a background in broadcast journalism and previous experience in the engineering space. She aims to find the very latest technological developments and keep the masses informed on recent innovative breakthroughs and consumer electronics, as well as create novel content and video geared toward Millennials and the budding popularity of “maker culture” and do-it-yourself philosophies and projects.

To contact the author of this article, email Nicolette.Emmino@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: My Vufine+ Wearable Display Lets Me Watch NCIS While I Work
#1
2017-Jan-02 12:49 AM

This could be a hit with Pokemon Go players.

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