Smartwear companies kick off the race for our faces | Science and technology news


Following the commercial success of Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headset, companies are now in a race to create the first augmented reality (AR) glasses aimed at the consumer market.

AR has been commonplace in consumer technology for a while, particularly popular in Instagram and Snapchat filters on smartphones.

However, some companies are now targeting the sci-fi vision of Tony Stark’s fictional Iron Man sunglasses.

There are already several products on the market that blend your computer screen with reality.

Instead of taking you into the third dimension like a VR headset, AR overlays the real world with a user interface and other graphics on clear lenses, while simultaneously capturing and filming the world around you.

Until now, AR headsets in the UK have been geared towards corporate use, with relatively high prices and unfashionable designs.

Meta was the first company in the UK to launch glasses with built-in cameras when it joined forces with Ray-Ban last year, which was targeting a consumer retail market.

Wearers can use two Ray-Ban Stories to listen to music and take pictures and videos that are automatically shared on your smartphone.

Stories are primarily designed for content creation and do not display anything on the wearer’s lenses.

Meta was the first company in the UK to launch glasses with built-in cameras. image meta

EE partners with Nreal for AR glasses

This week, however, a company called Nreal, in partnership with wireless carrier EE, released AR glasses designed for content consumption.

The headset, which connects to your Android smartphone via a USBC cable, throws your phone’s display onto a 201-inch screen at your lenses, wherever you are in the world.

Wearers can either mirror their phone screen directly onto the glasses or use an operating system that allows the user to open and resize multiple windows at once, just like on a computer.

The user can choose to view the display on transparent lenses or attach a plastic blackout screen to create a more cinematic experience.

The goggles work much like a TV screen or second monitor, except you carry your TV in an unobtrusive carry case in your backpack.

Nreal Air goggles enable iMAX-sized video gaming on the go.

When the wearer is connected to EE’s much-vaunted super-fast 5G network, via Xbox’s cloud game streaming or PlayStation’s Remote Play app, the wearer can play their console anywhere they can get a signal.

picture EE
The EE/Nreal glasses cost £399, which is less than half of their commercially-focused counterparts. picture EE

A new chapter for consumers

The Air headset marks a new chapter in consumer entertainment.

It costs £399 (less than half of its commercially-focused counterparts) and EE expects there will be no manufacturing or shipping delays at launch.

Danny Marshall, head of device partnerships at EE, told Sky News: “[Nreal] are actually very picky about the markets you can buy their products in to make sure they can focus supply… what we need to do pretty quickly is understand demand – that’s more of a challenge than the availability of components.

He pointed out that many people still don’t really know that AR is powering their Instagram filter, and the company doesn’t know how long wider adoption of the wearable technology will take.

So the next technological step will be for companies to combine the Ray-Ban Stories cameras with Nreal’s 1080p display.

“If you look at it broadly, most of the technology exists… Augmented Information Displays are already out there, it’s more about customer adoption.

“Most of the technology is there, it’s just about making it smaller, lighter and more portable – the battery is the other big thing, the rest of everything exists.”

Ray-Ban Stories allows wearers to listen to music and take photos and videos. Pic Meta/Ray Ban

Meta tests AR glasses in London

And Meta tends to agree.

Meta has announced they have started testing their own augmented reality glasses in London, which will record video and audio and track eye movements.

Speaking to Sky News, Jason Rubin, Vice President of Metaverse Content at Meta, explained the benefits developers at Facebook are seeing in AR.

“Augmented reality is great when you’re doing things in real life – so maybe I have augmented reality when I’m walking down the street because I can see cars and other people and get information at the same time, like how I hang up my phone today but on a much more effective way.

“The perfect device would do both [AR and VR] and would just switch to full immersion or let things through, whichever makes sense at any given point in time – and Mark Zuckerberg recently demonstrated that’s happening in Cambria.”

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How does augmented reality affect our brain?

Although Meta says this particular model isn’t a prototype and will never make it to market, the technology exists.

It is now only a matter of time before it can be miniaturized and manufactured on a large scale and at a price that people will buy into.

Real life is “number one”

Surprisingly, Mr. Rubin went on to say that he “would rather be in a room with [his manager] In real life, that’s number one. If I can’t be in a room with him, I’d rather be in a virtual room with him in VR.

He told Sky News that Meta staff are still working on a hybrid basis and will likely continue to do so.

“I know the entire company will be overjoyed that we’re getting back together… we’re all wondering what the long-term breaking point of all this will be.”

Continue reading:
Time to step up your story game as the app adds augmented reality effects

Apple and Google prepare for augmented reality conflict
Facebook and Apple Smart Glasses are coming our way soon

Despite the leaps in VR and AR technology, Mr. Rubin doesn’t think immersive glasses will be the only way to access the metaverse:

“I think augmented reality is going to become a bigger and bigger part of our lives over time…but I think there will be a lot of times when we’re not in immersive realities and want to use 2D screen…so screens will be around for a long time.” . Maybe forever.”

It is clear that smart wear does not stop at Fitbit or Apple Watch.

The race for our faces has begun.

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