AREA Defines Hardware and Software Requirements for AR

AREA (Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance) has published a first draft of hardware and software requirements for augmented reality headsets for use in professional environments. The goal of these ‘functional requirements’ is to help to develop a comprehensive ecosystem that, in turn, will accelerate the adoption of augmented reality. Of course AREA is focused on professional use and as such the descriptions may not be well suited requirements for consumer applications.

The published basic requirements can be found in the respective documents for hardware and software requirements.

The documents were developed by 65 organizations — including industry, AR providers, universities, and government agencies — during a March 2017 workshop to discuss the requirements for augmented reality technology in the market today. The basis of this work was provided by UI Labs, a USA research institute to further competitiveness of US-based manufacturing. Nevertheless AREA sees its activity as part of a global effort to further augmented reality technology in professional environments, which obviously includes manufacturing and other areas.

While the software requirements look at all kinds of devices to use augmented reality (including phones, tablets, monocular and binocular headsets), the hardware requirements focus pretty much on binocular headsets. These requirements are pretty basic and are far from approaching the kind of technical standard we are used to. The key requirements for displays and visual related performance are:

  • Resolution greater than FHD
  • 3D stereoscopic view
  • Field of Vision 85º in both directions
  • Automatic adjustment of interpupillary distance
  • No obstruction of peripheral vision
  • Easy to read in full ambient conditions
  • Brightness adjustment from full ambient to dark within 1 sec
  • Eye tracking as a way of controlling a software user interface
  • Battery Life 12h (or 6h with a hot swappable battery)
  • WiFi, Cellular and Bluetooth connectivity
  • No cable connections

The software requirements also contain simple statements about software capabilities as well as the workflow. As mentioned above this includes watching it on a phone and tablet as well. This would mean that the support of stereoscopic view is not necessary for these devices, but would be necessary for any device based on the described hardware requirements.

This needs to be seen as a first step to bring more players on board describing and defining such requirements.

Analyst Comment

The first steps to an global industry wide ‘standard’ are very painful and include typically fights between organizations that want to own the respective standards, as they are part of the associations’ income. I give AREA a 10 for not describing these documents as standards or even standard drafts (even though the documents do include a header referring to a standards number). The documents are a first step and act as an invitation to other players to come to the table and include their vision. That is a good goal indeed, but one I believe that will not be successful.

Too much money is on the table for the big CE companies to not at least try a closed garden approach to maximize their potential financial gain. Most of the AREA members are smaller companies (exceptions are Boeing, Bosch, and Huawei), with Atheer as the headset specialist. This is a good approach but needs more support from other companies including the big competitors to create more weight to steer this market. As long as Samsung, Apple, LG, HTC, Microsoft, etc. are not members, this document is not very likely to have real influence. (NH)