Head-Mounted Display

What Does Head-Mounted Display Mean?

A head-mounted display (HMD) is a type of computer display device or monitor that, as the name implies, is worn on the head or is built in as part of a helmet. This type of display is meant for a total immersion of the user in whatever experience the display is meant for, as it ensures that no matter where the user’s head may turn, the display is positioned right in front of the user’s eyes.


In most cases, this is a virtual reality or multimedia device meant for entertainment. However, some models have real-world applications such as part of the heads-up display used in special weapon systems such as in airplanes and helicopters.

Techopedia Explains Head-Mounted Display

A head-mounted display is simply a small monitor that is shaped like or positioned in a visor so that it takes up the entire field of view of the user or at least ensures that whatever the HMD is displaying is always in the field of view of the user, as in the case of monocular (single eye) and binocular (two eyes) HMDs used in the military. The military HMDs do not usually display videos or media, but rather give information and tracking as part of a heads-up display for the vehicle being used.

The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, features high-end performance and 100% field of view that no HMD product has ever done before. It has managed to singlehandedly bring back the interest for entertainment-grade HMDs into the mass consumer market. The whole system is still currently under development, so for now it can only be bought as a developer kit and the software ecosystem is still mostly limited to demos, showcases and proof of concepts that show a lot of promise.

The Oculus Rift also widens the HMD’s field of application to exploration, scientific research and training simulations. For example, an HMD with very good head movement tracking can be used to control a drone as if the user were the drone itself and can also be applied to the exploration of areas where it would be too dangerous for a human to go.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.