The large prototype of the TCL RayNeo X2 glasses shows how difficult it is to make effective augmented reality

TCL unveils a prototype of augmented reality glasses. RayNeo X2 reminds us why augmented reality is so difficult today.

For augmented reality glasses to become popular, they will need to look similar to traditional glasses. TCL unveiled a pair at CES 2023 that shows off all the progress still to be made. TCL describes it RayNeo X2 Prototype like glasses with a “delicate and light frame for everyday use”, but with their very large dimensions, one wonders if the word “delicate” has a place here.

TCL unveils a prototype of augmented reality glasses

TCL explains that the RayNeo X2 glasses “take advantage of MicroLED optical wave color displays.” A very technical jargon used here for the simple and good reason that the company is not (yet) ready to offer these glasses to the general public. It is rather a development platform, the time when technologies around augmented reality become more successful and above all more compact.

These glasses TCL work on the platform Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, the same chip found in the Meta Quest 2 VR headset. Its MicroLED display offers a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and 1,000 nits of brightness, enough to make visuals readable even in direct sunlight. Moreover, as reported CNETTCL explains that it will offer corrective lenses to be used in place of standard lenses for those who need them.

Instead of taking an approach like HoloLens or Magic Leap, with virtual elements bouncing around your real environment, TCL’s glasses are more in the mind. Google Glass. For example, the company explains that its “Smart GPS” navigation system uses simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) to overlay virtual directions displaying surrounding points of interest. The glasses can also display incoming calls and messages or even translate conversations with another person through real-time subtitles. In addition, the glasses can play music without making too much noise, to leave others in peace. Finally, a built-in camera lets you capture first-person video, take photos, and time-lapse.

RayNeo X2 reminds us why augmented reality is so difficult today

Here is, in summary, everything that augmented reality glasses should do in our daily lives. But in 2023, a company that specializes in display technologies still has a lot of problems in the miniatures of its glasses. This sheds some light on why bigger companies like Apple have yet to announce an augmented reality product, though many reports going in this direction for ten years now. This industry segment requires advanced technologies, which are still very new.

And while we wait for augmented reality glasses to get to a point where we’re comfortable wearing them in public every day, TCL is hiring developers to help with that. The company will begin offering its RayNeo X2 development kit to software developers “in select countries” by the end of the first quarter. A commercial launch will come later, but it will take a number of releases to flesh it all out, both literally and figuratively.

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