NetworkingStreamlined Glasses and Smart Headsets – IDTechEx Explores Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented and virtual reality are being developed in new ways to enhance reality, from streamlined smart glasses to headsets with farfetched fantasy experiences. Extended reality (XR) headsets are proving useful not only for leisure purposes but also for industry use, training, and even rehabilitation. In IDTechEx’s podcast, ‘Tomorrow’s Tech by IDTechEx’, Senior Technology Analyst Sam Dale discusses the variety of benefits of VR and AR.

Healthcare and industry uses

People with vision conditions or who may be hard of hearing could see lifestyle improvements from AR displays. With some examples of displays that don’t rely on the shape of the eye lens, AR could substitute for poor vision by providing visual guidance or an assisted view of the real world. Similarly, subtitles can appear as an overlay for people who might be hard of hearing or translations of speech in real-time for those communicating across countries.

Specialized industry training could also be done through virtual reality, from surgery and medicine to fighter pilot training, allowing for more accessibility and potentially less need to travel. Getting a jet engine fixed could be faster without having to trawl through an entire manual, but instead having instructions displayed through the lens of a worker’s headset. Warehouses adopted augmented reality headsets early on, as they can be used to guide workers around and provide instructions for maintenance support, something which Google Glass has been useful for. More brands have been developing these headsets, highlighting the importance of both VR and AR for industry uses.

Immersed into reality

Outdoor activities without the need to carry a smartphone could be possible in the future, as headsets could provide directions and information about particular surroundings without covering up the real world. In ten years, low-profile AR glasses could begin to replace some of the uses of smartphones, allowing more interaction with nature and reality with more high-tech equipment. AR swimming goggles have also been developed so swimmers can see lap times and smartwatch data while underwater.

Camera-based hand tracking technology, as well as eye movement tracking, could allow people wearing headsets to type on virtual keyboards using nothing but the space in front of them for more efficiency and the ability to work from anywhere without the need to carry around a laptop.

Conflict in this area arises with the question of streamlining devices and minimizing the space of battery packs for the ideal end product. Senior technology analyst Sam discusses the need for headsets to be able to prove they can be useful enough to justify the cost by being completely hands-free or achieving things a smartphone is not capable of. In the future, smartphones could largely be supplemented by AR devices once batteries and hardware are small enough to be discreet and streamlined.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality experience days have become extremely popular over the last few years. While AR devices complement existing reality by featuring overlays, VR headsets can completely replace reality and immerse users into an alternate place with out-of-the-ordinary experiences.

The distance needed between the lens and the screen is partly responsible for making the headsets so large, more so than for AR headsets. With the use of new pancake lenses that fold the path of light using mirrors and polarizers, this distance has started to be shrunk down significantly, allowing for more compact headsets.

Blocking out natural light is also a factor for larger equipment. However, with constant improvements in design and manufacturing and customers willing to spend more money on the technology, the possibilities for development are set to increase. In their research reports on the XR landscape, IDTechEx forecasts a 26% compound annual growth rate for VR headsets in the next ten years, demonstrating substantial growth in this already large market.

This podcast episode by IDTechEx explores the wonderful benefits of AR and VR technology, as well as the possibilities for their uses in the future. Sam also questions whether people’s desire for face-to-face socialization has been underestimated since the growth of online interactions as a result of the pandemic. It might be possible that low-profile technology that complements daily life without complete immersion would be a greater success in the field of extended reality, with products like AR glasses reducing the number of people on their phones.


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