AR/MR Hardware Thoughts

Osiyo. Dohiju? Hey, welcome back.

It is my opinion that companies producing wearable AR and MR tech will not go far if companies continue to be short-sighted and use proprietary software. When everyone can contribute and use then the software (read: operating system) can survive. If I have to rely on an Android or iOS device or even Windows machine for tethered for running the software that the tech uses, then the hardware is already dead. What I mean by this is that if you make wearable tech and require specific hardware of the user then your tech is not going to flourish. If you provide the basics of a Raspberry Pi-like SBC that can be modified and configured and the tech is merely the sensors, cameras, and output, then you have something expandable.

I understand companies wanting to be the first to release their hardware. If you get it to market faster you can make more money and do more. However, if you really want to get AR and MR into the hands of everyone faster then design the headset with all of the cameras, sensors, display, and audio then give the users a way to run the software for that hardware off any device – like pairing with an Android, iOS, laptop, desktop, whatever. You don’t need a fully functional suite. The users will figure that out as long as the hardware in the headset isn’t crap. People aren’t looking for the holy grail of AR/MR it’s ok to be tethered with a wire or two to a device. Provide them with a headset that has the features and a pluggable and portable small computer that they can have in a fanny pack, or satchel, or sling pack. You give them this and an OS that they can use with features and you’ve got a winner. You have something people will use even if a single wire is uncomfortable or snags a little. If you get people to use what you have then you can make enough money to make a better and more inexpensive product.

Right now, I have a LattePanda Alpha with 8GB Ram which is about 400 bucks or so. I have a Mad Gaze Glow Plus arriving which is about 350-600 depending on where you buy it and if it’s new or used. I also have a splitter for USB-C 3.0 and HDMI to USB-C for about 30 bucks. That’s one grand for a completely configurable and open source. I’ll still have to add some hardware to make it better. Such as a LeapMotion until the gesture library is more complete. IR cameras for pupil tracking. That’s about 150 or so plus custom 3D printing.

Let’s look at the set up without the Mad Gaze. LattePanda $400. USB Hub $15. USB Cameras $30 each. IR Cameras $30 each. TFT $50. Haori headset $60. That’s $650 or so. You could easily just have some AR functionality with a Raspberry Pi, one Camera, TFT, and headset – all for $150-175 or so. You’re not going to have the same MR set up. You could have a comfortable AR set up though. This is for a wearable AR set up which isn’t the same as using a webcam for AR and reading Hiro or Aruco tags. Which can also be done with a Raspberry Pi and a camera. The point is that you can create something out-of-the-box if you want. I think people, me included, get myopic on what it is that they want to do and then get shoehorned into whatever tech they think they have available instead of looking at what is actually available.

My oldest daughter can look at a pile of scrap anything and come up with an art piece. I cannot. What I can do is look around and see how MR applications would enhance the world around us. It could make us more productive or it could make us more lazy. All tech has the ability to make the world a better place or it can be used to make the world a worse place. I want to make the world a better place and I want to do that by untethering us from our couches and enhancing the world around us.

Inventions and technology were made to make life more productive and for entertainment. That means tasks take less time and effort so we can enjoy our time on this planet (or eventually off planet; right Elon?).

This is all doable in the next couple years.

Until next time. Dodadagohvi.

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