Following part one of this series that covered XR’s presence at CES broadly, we’re back to zero in on a subset: AR glasses. In part one, we also noted Xreal, which has sold 300,000 of its Air2 smart glasses; and Sony, whose as-yet-unnamed spatial computing system will be developed with Siemens – a company that has been using XR for training and other needs for decades.
Locations for demos were primarily but not exclusively, at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Startups were in Eureka Park, at the Sands Convention Center a long mile away. Many other demos took place in hotel suites and invitation-only conference rooms, so it’s impossible to see it all. I found XR primarily through intention, invitation, tips, and good ole CES serendipity.
RayNeo, a spin-off from TCL that created the low-cost ($340) RayNeo Air smart glasses, presented its next generation Air2. These handsome XR glasses provide a big screen-on-the-go that mirrors the tethered smartphone. It features an audio “whisper mode,” that keeps the sound extra private to the user. The RayNeo X2 Lite has a 30% field of view, and weighs in at 60 grams, making them the lightweight leaders.
CEO Howie Li showed me a demo of the new RayNeo X2 Lite, powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon XR2+ chipset which enables AI to do object recognition, depth scanning, 3D navigation, and avatar chat. Best of all, the RayNeo X2 Lite is untethered and has a three-hour battery life. In what the company characterizes as a “display breakthrough,” the new glasses have 1500 nits of brightness for a brighter screen and much better outdoor use.
Zapbox shared its $80 Zapbox at Pepcom, a press-only show within the show. It’s a 6DOF version of the once-popular Samsung Gear, which was also a holder for a smartphone that in 2015 was limited to 2D games and 360 video. Zapbox looks way more sleek than that, and comes with two controllers. Pass-through AR enables smartphones, and devices like the Meta Quest 3 and the Apple Vision Pro, to mix the physical and digital. Zapbox was demonstrating the popular spatial drawing app Open Brush, as well as 3D chess. Zapbox’s own SpatialTV app also records and plays back spatial video, something only the Vision Pro itself can do.
AR [Glasses] by NRMYW. I’ve never heard of the California company before. They have a splashy booth that caught the eye in the XR area in the LVCC. This stand-alone headset does not need to be tethered to a smartphone. It has a 90-minute battery life (similar to a Quest). On board, there are the expected Qualcomm XR2 chips, enabling standalone media consumption and gaming, along with real-time translation, a teleprompter, and familiar social media, audio, and video streaming services. Although the field of view is only 32 degrees, the screen appears as a 90-inch screen would from five feet away. At 700 nits, the screen was bright enough during my indoor demo but probably needs additional masking for outdoor use.
Solos AirGo3 Smart Glasses don’t have a display but offer onboard AI, announced the expansion of SolosTranslate, a full-service translation platform, for AirGo3. New operating modes, including Listen, Group, Text, and Present, can enable group communication by enabling multiple languages to be used at one time. SolosTranslate is built on Solos’ proprietary software platform and OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Nimo Glasses and the Nimo 1 Core mini computer are a pair of spatial computing devices that enable productivity on the go. Nimo Glasses are a pair of display glasses that feature HD displays and a 49-degree field of view. The glasses are available for preorder at $599. The mini-computer runs on an operating system called Nimo OS. The $399 Nimo 1 Core, the world’s first spatial computer designed for productivity, works with Nimo Glasses, Rokid Max, and XREAL Air Glasses. It is powered by a Qualcomm XR2, and has a very respectable 8 Core CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB Storage, and Adreno™ 650 GPU, WiFi 6, Air Mouse, and Trackpad.
Curve Reality uses Tilt 5 to fill a room with holograms. Tilt 5 is a game platform that brings holograms to board games. Its ultralight glasses are tethered to a PC, and four people can play at once on its special reflective mat. They are selling them just as fast as they can make them. Curve Reality is a small, powerful PC with an Nvidia processor that fits in a pouch you carry around with you. Here’s the trick. Partnering with Tilt 5, they placed their reflective mats all over the suite. Users can then walk among a HoloGallery.
Pimax Crystal, with 12K screens and 60G Airlink (wireless PCVR), was awarded the CES 2024 Innovation Awards, as an Honoree in the “XR Technologies & Accessories” category. The Crystal is the only award-winning VR headset at the awards.
The Emdor looks like the Vision Pro. But that’s about it. Apple’s trendsetting design attracts imitators in this case the EmdorVR EM-AX162, debuting just two months after Apple’s Vision Pro. While it bears a striking resemblance to the Vision Pro, its low-budget specs speak to its superficial nature. It has a Snapdragon XR1 chip, 6GB RAM, and a 5.5-inch LCD for each eye. Apple’s Vision Pro, on the other hand, boasts dual Apple Silicon chips, micro OLEDs with exceptional resolution, advanced features like eye-tracking and augmented reality, and a robust 256GB storage.
Vuzix (NASDAQ: VUZI) Introduces a New Wireless Headset for Enterprise. The company secured its twentieth consecutive CES 2024 Innovation Award for its new Vuzix Ultralite S AR smart glasses, an all-day design that delivers on-demand digital information in its monocular display. Aimed in part at sports and fitness users, the Ultralite S delivers hands-free, wireless connectivity to the information from the wearer’s smartphone or smartwatch. Weighing in at a mere 38 grams, it’ll last 48 hours on a single charge. The Ultralite S also employs Vuzix Incognito technology, virtually eliminating the eye glow or forward light found with other waveguide-based solutions. The Vuzix Ultralite OEM Platform is a go-to-market-ready, turnkey offering designed to fast-track client AR solutions into production. Paul Travers, the founder and CEO, spends CES in his booth, demoing his new headset to irrelevant strangers who stop to gawk at the AR hardware surrounded by CES awards. Paul, the CEO of a public company and he’s still repping it like an intern.
RealWear is Vuzix’s main competitor in the enterprise AR space and was doing suite demos again this year. The problem with a booth is that it’s physically grueling, expensive, and you spend 99% of your time on irrelevant people. The problem with the suite demo is that it’s hard to get people here. In this case, we met halfway, in the ciggy-choked Westway hotel bar, next to the LVCC. The RealWear is a ruggedized monocular display that attaches to a hard hat or ball cap and sits on the edge of your peripheral. You swing it in and out of your eyesight. It’s controlled with a special kind of voice recognition that works even in extremely noisy industrial environments. Importantly, it’s full of sensors, cameras, and flashlights. RealWear has had some real successes and great use cases. They’ve sold 15,000 units in the oil and gas industry. Hundreds of BMW mechanics use its see-what-I-see remote expert technology to troubleshoot maintenance issues with engineers in Germany. Honestly, if the US Army had chosen RealWear instead of Microsoft for its IVAS program, it might have worked.
Everysight AR Glasses for BMW Motorcycles are sexy as hell. In yet another case of CES serendipity, my podcast co-host Ted made the intro to founder and CEO Asaf Ashkenazi, who met me an hour before my flight home. Ashkenazi is a former Israeli Air Force pilot who saw the need for a practical heads-up display ten years ago when a bright microdisplay that looked like regular glasses seemed impossible. Everysight makes the BMW ConnectedRide Smartglasses ($680) which look like regular sunglasses. The glasses, called Mavericks, offer a monocular microdisplay that uses Sony OLED displays while still carrying a charge for eight hours. Mavericks will be available this summer.
Charlie Fink is the author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse,” (2017) and “Convergence” (2019). In the early 90s, Fink was EVP & COO of VR pioneer Virtual World Entertainment. He teaches at Chapman University in Orange, CA.