December 22, 2022
Last year, to summarize the 2021 XR market in three bullet points, I wrote, “1) Apple glasses rumors, 2) Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophical musings about the future of work, and 3) The Metaverse.”
Well, not much has changed: Journalists are still analyzing patents and code to deduce Apple’s AR hardware plans, Meta and others are still refining their vision for the future of work, and we still don’t know if there will be one metaverse or many metaverses. Let’s see what the major enterprise XR market players were up to in 2022:
After committing to OpenXR/WebXR support and reiterating its intention to target businesses, Magic Leap dropped its second-generation headset in September to enthusiastic reviews. Available in three editions starting at $3,300 for the Base model, Magic Leap 2 has twice the field of view and is half the size of its predecessor, and boasts major optics advancements: In particular, reviewers praised the headset’s reduced eyestrain and unique dynamic dimming feature.
In February, a Business Insider report cast doubts on the future of Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset. Following this, Microsoft worked to position its full technology stack for the enterprise metaverse, forming an internal team in October to focus on immersive software interfaces for industrial applications. Around the same time, Microsoft and Meta announced a host of Windows productivity tools would be coming to Meta Quest devices, including Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 apps. The most recent rumblings suggest Microsoft is, in fact, working on a HoloLens 3.
Apple has been working on an AR operating system, which we now know is named xrOS. The company will ship a headset capable of both AR and VR in late 2023 and reportedly demoed a version of this headset to its board in May. Apple also plans to eventually release AR glasses. Why two devices? The initial headset may be intended for developers to build an ecosystem of apps for the future consumer-oriented glasses.
Google ramped up work on its AR headset, codenamed Project Iris and projected to ship in 2024. The search giant also announced new testing plans for Google Glass to better understand how the product can change the way we live and work.
In other 2022 headset news, Vuzix announced Vuzix Blade 2 and Epson launched Moverio BT-45C and BT-45CS smart glasses.
In August, RealWear launched RealWear Cloud, a SaaS offering to help IT and business operations grow their fleet of RealWear devices. RealWear Cloud comes with RealWear Cloud Assistance powered by TeamViewer’s remote access software. RealWear also launched a Thermal Camera Module: When connected to RealWear Navigator headsets, the module can enhance inspections, remote support sessions, and more.
We got a few new enterprise-level VR headsets in 2022, including Lenovo’s ThinkReality VRX, Pico’s Pico 4 Enterprise, and HTC’s VIVE Flow Business Edition. The Lenovo device sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ chipset and features high-resolution color passthrough, while Pico 4 Enterprise builds on its consumer counterpart with features like automatic IPD adjustment and face, eye, and hand tracking. The enterprise version of the VIVE Flow has a kiosk mode allowing content to be queued and remotely triggered and comes with a trial of virtual meeting tool VIVE Sync. (HTC is also planning a rival to Meta’s Quest 2.)
Speaking of Quest…Meta released the $1,500 Quest Pro in late October. With full-color passthrough, facial expression tracking to capture user emotions, and improved controllers, the headset has received generally favorable reviews. Meta is clearly trying to make itself more appealing to enterprise with Horizon Workrooms, partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Accenture, and plans to allow business Meta accounts. Despite skepticism around its investments and mass layoffs, Meta remains committed to its vision of the metaverse and to building true AR glasses.
In April, high-end headset maker Varjo launched the Varjo Reality Cloud platform, which enables users to visit a real space in VR from a remote location—a feat that will open new enterprise VR applications. As of November, Varjo Reality Cloud supports Autodesk VRED, Unity, and Unreal Engine projects. In May, Varjo announced a partnership to bring OpenBCI’s neural interface Galea to its Aero headset, making Aero the first VR headset that “simultaneously measures the user’s heart, skin, muscles, eyes, and brain.” Most recently, Varjo raised $40 million to build a “true-to-life, industrial metaverse.”
In the world of XR accessories (namely haptic gloves), Manus’s $6,000 Quantum Metagloves are now available for purchase, while pre-orders or the $4,500 HaptX Gloves G1 are expected to ship in Q3 2023. Conquest VR also released spatial audio headphones for enterprise. Compatible with Meta Quest, VIVE Focus 3, Varjo, and Pico Neo 3 headsets, Conquest Pro VR is designed to enhance immersive collaboration and training.
In 2022, TeamViewer teamed up with NSF International Food Safety to integrate AR platform EyeSucceed into the F&B industry; with Siemens to bring its Frontline AR platform to Siemens’ PLM solution Teamcenter; and with SAP to integrate Frontline with SAP’s warehouse management software. TeamViewer also launched AiStudio, an add-on to Frontline that enables enterprises to train models for image and object recognition.
CGS announced a partnership combining its TeamworkAR solution with Matterport’s Digital Twins. The combo allows anyone with an iOS or Android device to quickly generate interactive digital twins and other 3D content for immersive training. (Learn more in this free webinar.) CGS also plans to sell Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 as part of a bundled solution.
On the MDM front, Mason released Mason X-Ray, a device management platform “for remote debugging and resolution of issues on IoT smart devices deployed in the field;” while ArborXR joined forces with Qualcomm to support large-scale deployments of XR headsets. The company also announced a partnership with Bodyswaps to remotely distribute VR soft skills training content to Bodyswaps’ clients through its XR device management platform.
In June, Campfire launched Campfire Studio Console, “a device that delivers large-scale shared holograms in design studios and open workspaces.” The following month, Arvizio announced AR Instructor 2.0, an updated, cross-device version of its no-code remote guidance platform with new features like animated digital twins, third-party documentation, and more. Arvizio showcased the SaaS solution on Qualcomm and Lenovo devices at the Augmented Enterprise Summit in October.
PLATFORM & OTHER
This year, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon AR2 chipset purpose-built for AR and opened its Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform for developers to create new head-worn AR experiences and add head-worn AR features to existing 2D Android mobile apps. In September, the company took its relationship with Meta to the next level with an agreement to collaborate on custom VR chipsets for future devices. Qualcomm also announced the $100 million Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, an initiative to fund XR developers and technologies.
NVIDIA released Omniverse XR, described as “the first full-fidelity, fully ray-traced VR,” and announced NVIDIA Omniverse Cloud, “a suite of cloud services for artists, developers and enterprise teams to design, publish, operate and experience metaverse applications anywhere.” The tech giant also collaborated with Autodesk to join NVIDIA CloudXR and Autodesk VRED on Amazon Web Services as a kind of “quick start” deployment system.
In April, Epic Games introduced RealityScan, a free 3D scanning app that turns smartphone photos into high-fidelity 3D models. In September, Epic Games announced a collaboration with Autodesk to expand access to key design tools like Epic’s Twinmotion and RealityScan to Autodesk customers. And just last month, ENGAGE launched Link, “a fully featured corporate metaverse” and host to a number of portals through which users can access persistent virtual locations built for individual businesses.
In 2022, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Unity, and others formed the Metaverse Standards Forum, which “aims to drive open interoperability” in hopes of making it easier for developers to build immersive experiences across platforms.
In funding and acquisition news, 2022 highlights included Autodesk’s purchase of The Wild, a move to meet increasing needs for XR within AEC, and Accenture investments in XR training firms Talespin and Strivr. Apprentice.io raised $100 million to supply AR tech to pharma manufacturers, while Rokid brought in $160 million to expand its AR headset globally and VIRNECT closed on $30 million to expand its industrial XR ecosystem.
What can you expect in 2023? Follow this space as the AR headset wars continue to heat up, virtual meetings mature, and we celebrate the 10th edition of the Augmented Enterprise Summit!