Imagine that you’re sitting on your couch during a rainy day. You snap on your AR glasses and you suddenly find yourself transported to a sunny hillside with a purple butterflies landing in your hand.
You think that’s crazy? Snap has just released its fourth generation spectacle glasses, which make virtual transportations possible. This is the latest update in Snap’s Spectacles line, after its predecessor, Spectacles3, launched in 2020. The new frames have two front-facing cameras and four microphones. There are also two stereo speakers and a voice-controlled touchpad.
You may be asking, “So how realistic are these AR experiences really?” Two front-facing cameras allow the glasses to detect surfaces and objects around you, so that the graphics can interact naturally with the environment.
What’s the Catch?
Snap’s fourth generation spectacles, unlike past models are not yet available to consumers. Snap revealed that it will provide them directly to AR effects creators via an online application program at its Partner Summit for developers. Why? AR glasses are not ready for both the consumer and the product.
- Consumers won’t purchase products unless they have a use case.The spectacles will be bought by consumers for entertainment purposes, just like TVs and videogames. It will take more than entertainment to get to the masses. Snap will be more successful (and consumers will spend more) if it launches with services and content. Snap therefore releases this product.Snapchat AR effects are already being used by over 200,000 peopleTo create new experiences with the Spectacles
- AR glasses are not yet in strong demand from consumers.It is a new use case to simultaneously move and consume 21st century digital media. My experience with wearing it was the subject of a blog post.FORM Smart Swim GogglesAn example of an AR headset is shown here. The in-goggle display, which showed my speed, made it difficult to see clearly while I was swimming with the AR headset. This AR headset is safe in a pool but I’m not sure how it would feel when I was out running, skiing, or biking.
- AR glasses are dependent on connectivity and battery life.These glasses offer a hands-free experience but will still require a smartphone to connect like 5G. 5G is faster than 4G, and more reliable than the best Wi-Fi available today.Most AR experiences powered by power. These glasses also require power. A battery could be included in the glasses but it would add weight. The currently available information is:Glasses weigh 134gIt is almost twice as heavy as its Spectacles. The current battery’s battery life is only for.30 minutes. My FORM swim goggles, on the other hand, can last up to 15 hours.
What other steps does Snap need to take in order for AR to become a reality?
- Purchase of IP and talentSnap announced in May that Snap isWaveOptics UK Display SupplierIts largest ever deal was for $500 million. Waveguides are a display technology that overlays virtual objects onto the real world using transparent surfaces like glass. This supplier is mainly known for making waveguides. This strategic move is similar to Snap’s larger tech competitors like the 2018 acquisition of Akonia.
- The Ghost AR Innovation Lab is being funded.Snap announced that it will fund an AR innovation lab worth $3.5 million with additional funding fromVerizon to build 5G AR experiences. Both enterprises will benefit from the partnership. There is no strong consumer demand for 5G today, other than as an alternative to home broadband. Future 5G products and autonomous vehicles will be internet-of-things.
- Developers can access the devices.Snap is reaching out to its over 200,000 Lens developers and creators. These partners are creating millions of AR experiences.Snap’s Lens StudioThey are available for purchase. Developers don’t need to buy them but must apply to get a pair. Snap hopes to encourage the community to create Lenses for Spectacles, and generate buzz about the glasses.
Waveguide Technology: What is it and why is it so important?
Waveguide technology is vital for AR glasses, as it shrinks the hardware to deliver visual experiences that will impress consumers.
- Optical Waveguide is the best option.It is thin and lightweight in nature, and includes micro-display as well as imaging optics. An optical combiner is required to create a virtual image and transmit external light to the eye. This creates a virtual landscape that overlays the real one.
- There are still many things to do.Waveguide technology is heavy and bulky. This makes it difficult for AR glasses to become consumer-ready.