Big prototype of TCL RayNeo X2 glasses shows how difficult effective augmented reality is

TCL unveils a prototype of augmented reality glasses. The RayNeo X2s remind us why augmented reality is so difficult today.

For augmented reality glasses to become popular, they are going to have to look similar to traditional glasses. TCL unveiled a pair at CES 2023 that shows all the progress that still needs to be made. TCL describes its RayNeo X2 prototype like glasses with a “subtle and light frame for everyday use”, but with their very large size, one wonders if the word “subtle” has any place here.

TCL unveils a prototype of augmented reality glasses

TCL explains that the RayNeo X2 glasses “benefit from the color MicroLED optical waveguide screens”. 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 that 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 use in place of standard lenses, to those who need them.

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

The RayNeo X2s remind 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 nevertheless specializes in screen technologies is still having a lot of trouble miniaturizing its glasses enough. This sheds some light on why bigger companies like Apple have yet to announce an augmented reality product, despite many reports going in this direction for ten years now. This segment of the industry requires advanced technologies, which are still far too young.

And while we wait for augmented reality glasses to come 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 take place later, but it will take a number of releases to refine all of this, both literally and figuratively.

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Big prototype of TCL RayNeo X2 glasses shows how difficult effective augmented reality is

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