January 14, 2020
There were a bunch of 8K TVs, cool car tech, robots, and even meatless pork, but it was augmented and virtual reality that stole the show at this year’s CES—especially enterprise AR/VR.
Here are the top enterprise-related AR/VR announcements around last week’s show. (Sorry, we had to leave out Charmin’s VR-enhanced portable toilet.)
Pimax claimed that its $1,299 Vision 8KX headset has finally entered mass production. The device essentially places the equivalent of two TVs next to each other, creating a 200-degree diagonal field of view. The company also announced a new $499 model called Artisan with lower specs. Check out this handy chart comparing Pimax’s 6 headsets.
Bosch may have solved smart glasses’ battery life problem with its Light Drive system, which has 30% less depth permitting smaller, lighter glasses designs. The module consists of MEMS mirrors, optical elements, sensors and onboard processing. There’s no visible display or integrated camera. Bosch says it’s perfect for working all day, providing just-in-time, hands-free messages.
Pico announced its latest all-in-one VR headset for enterprise, the $700 Neo 2, which has 6degrees of freedom, head and controller tracking, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 platform inside. A second version, the Neo 2 Eye, incorporates eye tracking from Tobii. Both headsets support wireless streaming for PC and will come with Firefox Reality.
ThirdEye announced mass shipping of its $1,950 XR Mixed Reality glasses. Built into the glasses is theThirdEye Workspace platform that includes AR remote help and 3D SLAM-based CAD modeling and overlay. The company has also formed strategic partnerships with software providers to expand applications of the X2 across industry and is partnering with ManoMotion to add hand gesture controls to the device.
LetinAR, developer of optical systems for smart glasses, released its PinMR 2020 lens with a wider vertical viewing angle (which greatly enhances performance) and an improved eye-box.The company also presented its vision for future applications of AR. Read more.
Vuzix unveiled the $2,499 M4000 smart glasses, which includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 and a fully transparent waveguide display. Volume production of the device, which is rated IP67 for dust and water protection, is planned to begin in the second half of the year.
VRgineers unveiled the XTAL VR headset with an incredible 8K resolution, foveated rendering, gaze (eye tracking) and voice commands, gesture controls (thanks to two Leap Motion sensors), and a 180-degree FOV. The device, which starts at $8,000, is intended for heavy-duty enterprise applications (think astronaut, soldier training).
Nreal introduced Nebula, an Android-based operating system for the Nreal Light that will allow developers to adapt their Android apps to AR. Thanks to 3D mapping tech by 6D.ai, Nebula will enable persistent content and multi-user experiences, plus flexible user inputs and, soon, eye-tracking capabilities. Nreal has been accepting pre-orders for the Nreal Light Developer Kit and plans to ship the consumer version of the device in early 2020.
The company exhibited its finished product with a new feature enabling users to track their activity and distance travelled in VR. The Cybershoes are a foot-worn VR accessory allowing you to walk or run through virtual space. The tech works with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, Pimax, and more.
VR eyeglasses—that’s right; Panasonic showed off a prototype of a slim, steampunk-looking pair of virtual reality glasses (not a bulky headset) that support HDR and make use of the company’s own optical designs (from the Lumix camera division), audio tech and signal processing (like that found in its TVs and Blu-ray players). The glasses also contain high-resolution micro OLED panels developed by Panasonic and Kopin and Technics drivers in the earbuds. And while you might expect these to be a consumer play, Panasonic is pointing to more commercial applications that will become possible with the rollout of 5G.
This Paris-based brain-computer interface startup debuted a $400 BCI dev kit intended for release in the first half of 2020. The device is a non-invasive EEG attached to the back of the head with a simple forehead strap, and could be incorporated into VR headsets to measure user intent. (This was a potential use case brought up by Lockheed Martin's Shelley Peterson at EWTS 2019.)
In an on-site interview, Qualcomm’s Head of XR Hugo Swart said that the company’s Snapdragon chips are now in over 30 AR/VR headsets, including the Oculus Quest and HoloLens 2, with the first XR2 devices expected in the second half of 2020. Qualcomm also hinted at the reveal of a new VRDK reference design based on the XR2.
The Korea-based company displayed a prototype of an upcoming VR thermal haptic development kit – the ThermoReal dev kit – consisting of two gloves, two sleeves and a forehead-mounted unit. TEGway’s haptic tech can produce convincing temperature fluctuations. The glove and sleeve haptics can also quickly alternate between hot and cold to create a force sensation.
*The following is not an XR solution*
Lastly, we’ve been following Sarcos Robotics for a while now (see our exoskeleton market post) and were excited to see the Guardian XO full-body powered exoskeleton on exhibit at the Delta Airlines booth at CES. Delta is one of the Guardian XO’s first customers; the airline is testing the device in aircraft maintenance.
Image source: The Verge