Focused on Olympus

A leader in other markets goes after the game industry

Contributions to the computer game industry generally come from one of three places: a long-standing powerhouse company, an up-and-coming pioneer and, more rarely, a company that has an established history in other industries that decides to move into ours.

It's the last category that is my topic today.

How does a company that has a history of great success in other fields spot a need in the game industry? Why then, would they desire to take a risk to fill that need?

The best way to get answers would be to go straight to the source.

Everyone knows Olympus has been a leader in many fields for years, including digital and film photography, and medical imaging. Now, for the past year and a half or so, they have been developing a face-mounted display that allows the user to see the equivalent of a monitor screen right in front of their nose. Now they have improved it to the point of crystal clarity, and even have a model that hooks directly into a certain game console.

GiN zoomed in on Sally Smith Clemens, Media Representative for Olympus. She had a lot to say about her company, its line of Eye-Trek goggles, and their contribution to the game industry.

Olympus –

GiN: Tell us a bit about Olympus’ history.

Clemens: Olympus began in 1919 with one goal: to produce Japan’s first microscope. It met this goal in only one year.

By 1935 we had opened a world-class optical research facility dedicated to creating the finest possible camera lenses. From the world’s first gastrocamera in 1950 (which initiated our involvement with medical systems and health care equipment) to pioneering development of compact SLR cameras and the world’s first Microcassette recorder, Olympus has continued to create successful responses to market needs around the world.

Today, 80 years after we made our first microscope, we remain as young, as eager, as curious and as vigorous as we were in the beginning.

GiN: After such a long and successful history in other markets, what spurred the decision to get into the game peripheral industry?

Clemens: Olympus has established much of its business from its excellence in optics and digital imaging, and both are integral elements of the Eye-Trek and necessary for gaming. There were head-mounted displays already in the game industry. When compared to the Eye-Trek though, it was obvious that Olympus would be very effective in targeting this market.

GiN: How is marketing to the computer game industry different than other industries where Olympus has sold products?

Clemens: Marketing to the computer game industry is quite different from all other markets in which Olympus is currently involved. We are learning as we go. We are actively seeking relationships with dealers, distributors, game developers, and would welcome interest from established industry leaders for potential partnerships.

GiN: What differences do you see in the popularity of something like the Eye-Trek in the U.S. as opposed to say the Japanese market?

Clemens: Although the demographic data is not yet completed, the sales data is showing very consistent results with similar interest in all world markets.

GiN: Do you think gamers will be more interested in your high-end or low-end Face Mounted Display? [FMD]

Clemens: Trick answer to your question: gamers would love the high-end performance at the low-end price. Realistically, if the different models were positioned by price the structure would appear as follows: Low: FMD-20P, FMD-200; Medium: FMD-250W; High: FMD-700.

Each model Eye-Trek has unique application attributes. Two models, the FMD-200 and FMD-20P are well suited for console gaming and at the lower end of the price range. The high-end FMD-700, which will also work with game consoles, is the only model with a direct computer monitor connection so it is ideal for the PC gamer enthusiast. Resting at the middle of the price range is the FMD-250W. The ‘W’ designates wide screen and offers the 16:9 aspect ratio. This model, also compatible with the game counsel, is well suited for the gamer that also travels with the DVD player and would like to view DVD movies in wide format. All of the different models will connect to standard VGA and/or S video so the personal home theater effect can be had with all.

GiN: Why was it necessary to make an Eye-Trek product that hooks directly into the PS2?

Clemens: The FMD-20P was introduced as a dedicated PS2 model for a number of reasons:

Price – the dedicated model reduced parts count thereby reducing cost to the end user.

Ease of use – the custom interface eliminated excess cables and adapters to simplify connections to the PS2.

The PS2 is also versatile in its ability to play DVD movies where other gaming consoles cannot.

GiN: Do you see something like the Eye-Trek goggles entirely replacing traditional monitors one day?

Clemens: We like to believe that, but realistically, we believe that Eye-Trek will never completely replace conventional displays. Traditional monitors are still the most effective way for multiple viewers to see the same thing.

GiN: What can our industry expect to see from Olympus in the future?

Clemens: Olympus is working to refine the current Eye-Trek technologies. We hope to introduce more affordable models with better resolution, lighter, smaller, and wireless. The Eye-Trek is an excellent peripheral to be considered as part of a packaged gaming system.

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