Extended Reality And Mixed Reality Should Be The Focus Of All Metaverse Glasses

By now, people following developments about the Metaverse know that much of the focus has been on Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality.

For decades, VR dominated the discussion about how we would enter and view virtual worlds. Most of the early headsets had VR at the heart of their designs, with VR games being the essential app that drove the sales of products like HTC’s Vive, PlayStation VR, Valve Index, Meta’s Quest, and others.

One primary focus of VR headsets is that they are almost all created to deliver a closed-world virtual experience. That means that the viewing is like being in a closed box where only virtual world experiences are in sight.

However, after Apple introduced its AR Kit at WWDC in 2017, the concept of AR entered all discussions about virtual world experiences. While VR delivers closed-world environments, AR allows a person to see the actual world around them and then superimpose digital data on what they are seeing to enhance their virtual experiences.

Over the last few years, VR, AR, and the Metaverse have become a prime focus within the world of technology. As a result, it is becoming more apparent that the best headset that could bring the Metaverse to the masses needs to have a blended approach to delivering true virtual worlds.

A blended approach is defined as XR or extended experience or MR for mixed reality built into future headsets. As stated earlier, VR has gained the most attention as a vehicle for delivering virtual reality gaming. The most prominent XR/MR headset has been Microsoft’s HoloLens. At the moment, Vuzix has the most used AR headsets. They are mostly used in vertical markets like field service, manufacturing, visualization, and, sometimes, training.

Thankfully, we are seeing some of the major players in VR and AR now talking about making MR/XR part of their future headset designs.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced his Metaverse vision and shared that Meta was creating a new headset, code-named Cambria of their own, he added that his new headset could also support some form of MR or XR.

Since Apple introduced AR Kit in 2017, most of Apple’s rhetoric at WWDC and in comments from Apple executives like CEO Tim Cook mostly focused on AR. But recently, when Tim Cook has spoken about their AR vision, he has added the possibility that whatever they are doing to deliver their AR experiences, MR and XR would also be part of their solutions.

That does not mean that dedicated VR headsets will not exist in the future. VR headsets will still deliver the best 3D immersive experiences, especially for gaming. However, a dedicated VR gaming market will be much smaller than a broader consumer market, where a mix of VR games and AR-focused experiences will be the biggest market for what will be called XR or MR glasses in the future.

This shift in thinking about making MR and XR a cornerstone of future headsets that would deliver a rich Metaverse experience is important. VR itself is great but way too limited for a mass consumer market where a closed headset is less appealing to them. Most true VR headsets are goggles that are bulky and force a person to be in a limited and primarily stationary experience is just not appealing to a broader market of users where gaming is not their primary focus.

The broader consumer market is more likely to want to use some type of MR or XR headset that looks more like mainstream glasses. AR is more important than VR to those more focused on 3D immersive games. Yet, consumers will still want to have entertainment functions like games, albeit not being as immersive as one would get with a true VR headset.

The biggest challenge is to create glasses that are acceptable to consumers that deliver a great AR experience but still deliver light VR simultaneously functionality.

There are some great XR or MR glasses already on the market. Recently ZDNet compared to the best AR and XR glasses and looked at Google Glass Enterprise 2, Microsoft Hololens 2, Lenovo ThinkReality A3, and Vuzix Blade Upgraded. However, these are focused on vertical enterprise markets.

Making attractive glasses that could still deliver an outstanding consumer AR and Metaverse experience is not available yet. As a result, most industry watchers think Apple could be the one who creates the models that could deliver this type of XR-MR experience and could be the company that kicks off the consumer market for these types of headsets. However, many sources suggest Apple’s MR-XR headset won’t see the light of day for at least another one to two years.

We are still in the very early days of making the Metaverse a technology that could interest all. However, for a broader audience to partake of the benefits of the Metaverse, I believe that the type of glasses needed must include features that deliver XR-MR and AR functionality to be successful.

.

Leave a Comment