1 Dec 2023 | Mike Boland
AWE Talks: Plotting AR Glasses' Evolutionary Path
AWE EU 2023

Welcome back to AWE Talks, our series that revisits the most engaging content from AWE’s catalog of conference sessions. Now that AWE EU 2023 has concluded, we have a fresh batch of sessions to dive into. 

This week, we take a look the evolutionary path for AR glasses. How do the innovations made to date inform what we could see next? And what do broader evolutionary steps in computing's past tell us about AR's future?

See the summarized takeaways below, along with the full session video. Stay tuned for more video highlights each week and check out the full library on awe.live and AWE’s YouTube Channel.

Daniel Wagner, Snap

Key Takeaways
– Computing innovation happens gradually, from mainframe computers to smartphones.
– What does this tell us about AR's evolutionary path? It will be gradual but steady. 
– We're now at a point when there are several approaches towards AR's holy grail. 
   – By holy grail, we mean all-day wearable glasses that are visually-rich and stylistic. 
– We're far from that goal due to tech challenges and tradeoffs... but getting closer. 
– The current AR glasses landscape has many variations that can be put in a few buckets. 
   – Optical see-through, optimized for maximum capability (e.g., Hololens 2)
   – VR Goggles with passthrough (e.g., Quest 3, Apple Vision Pro)
   – Highly-specialized industrial/enterprise hardware (e.g., Vuzix, Realwear)
   – Low-cost tethered, usually with simple optics (e.g., Xreal Air 2)
   – Small & lightweight optical see-through (e.g., Snap Spectacles, gen 4).
– These approaches each evolve towards AR's holy grail from different angles. 
– The list of specs that will define that eventual AR endpoint includes...
   – Untethered & cloud-connected
   – Lightweight (<100g) for all-day comfort
   – Optical see-through for optimal display comfort
   – Wide field of view for maximum immersion
   – Lots of compute for compelling applications
– And the X-factor according to Wagner is for stylistic viability... so people actually wear them. 
– We can look forward to this evolutionary path but should set expectations of realistic timing.
– That AR glasses "holy grail" moment likely won't arrive until sometime in the 2030s. 

For more color from Wagner, see the full video below...    

  Want more XR insights and multimedia? ARtillery Intelligence offers an indexed and searchable library of XR intelligence known as ARtillery Pro. See more here.  

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