Our Voice: Thumbs up to wearable personal theater and down to politicizing Olympic games

February 9, 2014 

The eyes have it

To the electrical engineer who is bringing the portable theater he helped develop at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to market.

Allan Evans had an idea to project images directly onto the eye to mimic the way the eye naturally sees while he was working at PNNL.

His collaboration with PNNL scientist Bruce Bernacki, an optics expert, led to a mobile, personal theater system worn on the head that can make a movie viewed on the headset look as if the viewer is seeing a crisp, high-definition image on an 80-inch screen 8 feet away, according to Avegant, the company he cofounded in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Anybody who takes kids on long road trips will want to get a few of these sets. They'd be great for long plane rides too.

A prototype called Glyph shown at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January earned the Editor's Choice Award.

Avegant followed that up with a Kickstarter Internet crowd-funding campaign, offering incentives for pledges of money. As of Friday, eight days into the campaign, it had raised $880,000 from almost 2,000 backers, easily surpassing a goal of $250,000. People who pledge at least $499 are offered a pre-market version of Glyph at the end of this year.

Kudos for bringing something fun and new to the marketplace, but Avegant ought to locate a piece of the business in the Tri-Cities. The technology was developed in 2011 and 2012 at PNNL, and it would be a shame to see another Tri-City technology take its economic benefits elsewhere.

Vanquishing vapid vandals

To prosecutors in Salt Lake City for filing charges against two former Boy Scout leaders accused of toppling one of the ancient rock formations at Utah's Goblin Valley State Park.

Glenn Taylor is charged with criminal mischief and David Hall with aiding criminal mischief, Utah State Parks and Recreation said, according to The Associated Press.

Both men, of Highland, Utah, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, were ordered to appear in state court March 18.

A video shot by Hall in October and posted on YouTube shows Taylor dislodging a mushroom-shaped sandstone pillar. Taylor, Hall and another companion are then seen cheering and high-fiving.

They claimed the rock formation might have been ready to fall and kill a visitor. The excuse was unconvincing. Park officials said the rock formation had been standing for much of human history, if not longer. Taylor and Hall were later stripped of their Boy Scout positions.

If convicted, the men could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Stupidity has its consequences.

Let's play

To politicizing the Olympic games even more than they already are. The boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow demonstrated that it's the athletes who suffer the most when politicians attempt to use the Olympic stage to advance national policies.

President Obama and a handful of European leaders skipped opening ceremonies in Sochi to show their opposition to Moscow's law targeting the vague crime of disseminating "gay propaganda" and other attempts to suppress political opposition.

But there are plenty of venues for world leaders to express their opposition to Russia's record on human rights.

None of Russia's sins are the fault of the athletes who have worked so hard to earn a chance to compete in the Olympics. The focus should be on their accomplishments.

Celebrating athletic achievement isn't an endorsement of all the host nation's policies. Let the athletes play without trying to steal any of their thunder.

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