Welcome to the May Editor’s picks. Last month belonged to AR and a string of headsets aimed at enterprise and consumer alike. If you agree, disagree or have something you think I should cover, drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org
Third P-A-R-T-Y? Because Microsoft’s gotta
May was full of augmented reality (AR) news, particularly on the arrival of new headsets to rival Microsoft’s HoloLens 2.
Microsoft is a good place to start, because right at the beginning of the month the company announced the release of a developer edition of the HoloLens 2, in an apparent bid to kickstart the creation of an ecosystem of apps for the mixed reality (MR) headset.
Uncontroversial, but for two points: Microsoft is still requiring $99 per month for the headset, or $3,500 up front, meaning that developers aren’t receiving the most generous of incentives to choose its particular party; and many of the company’s rivals chose May as the month to show their hands.
First, the AR headsets aimed at enterprise. Finnish headset maker Varjo finally revealed the upgrade to its seminal VR-1. It claims that the new front plate, featuring dual 12 megapixel cameras, achieves true MR.
Varjo’s XR-1 Developer Edition, which will ship in the second half of 2019, uses cameras, attached to the VR-1 via a front plate, to digitise the world in real time, and then multiplexes it inside the GPU with the virtual content to show the combined result to the user.
The Finnish company demoed XR-1 at AWE USA and the feedback on social media was excellent.
Google returned to the frey with a new version of its AR glasses. Glass Enterprise Edition 2 will cost $999.
Much has been written about the original Glasses and their issues, so it’s no surprise that Google steered the technology away from consumer use. And the success of HoloLens and RealWear shows that there is an appetite for AR-powered productivity around the world. With the Google machine behind it, don’t be surprised to hear more about Glasses in a business near you.
Chinese multinational technology company Lenovo has seen which way the wind is blowing for AR hardware and has launched ThinkReality, a new AR platform and headset for enterprise.
ThinkReality is a complete hardware and software solution aimed at enterprise workers who use AR applications to receive assistance, reduce repair times, eliminate errors, streamline complex workflows, improve training quality and collaborate. Sound familiar?
Lenovo has geared ThinkReality toward the same market as the HoloLens 2, and promised that users will be able to pin, interact and collaborate with three-dimensional (3D) digital information in the real world, improving their contextual awareness and efficiency.
The new ThinkReality A6, a lightweight, heads-up, hands free mobile headset, weighs 380g (0.83lbs) and has a 40-degree diagonal field of view with 1080p resolution per eye.
It’s the turn of the consumers now, and they shouldn’t be disappointed with what’s coming to market.
Technology manufacturer Epson added to its line-up of smart glasses for AR experiences in May.
The Moverio BT-30C smart glasses, costing $499, are a tethered plug-and-play device aimed at 5G smartphone and PC owners. The smart glasses connect to Android smartphones or Windows PCs via USB-C.
Ease of use and a similar price to smartwatches are the headlines hear, making the AR headset an accessory rather than a fully fledged system such as the Oculus Quest virtual reality headset or its tethered friends.
Finally and in much the same vein, Bose Frames, the AR eyewear from the audio technology company, were released worldwide on 31 May. They cost £199.95 in the UK.
The AR sunglasses, which provide the wearer with an audio-sensory experience when connected to the Bose AR platform, were released in the US in January, at a cost of $199.
Bose AR uses a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from an IOS or Android device and automatically adds a layer of audio, “connecting that place and time to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, gaming, and more”.