ANTVR Technology Co., LTD (Beijing, China) has developed an AR glasses product that the company describes as small, lightweight, having large field of view and compatible with SteamVR. The product is called Mix and is illustrated in the figure below.
The structure of the optical system in the Mix AR glasses is called a dual-channel mixed optics. The optical system is illustrated in the figure below.
Paraphrasing the description on the ANTVR Technology web site, the key component in the optical system is a set of dual-channel lenses each with its’ own optical channel. The two optical channels are sensitive to light of different polarizations – internal light (from the display) and external light (from the outside environment). The two channels have different focal lengths. The focal length of the external light is infinite. Since the external light is not focused, the image of the outside environment appears as normal. The focal length of the internal light is short and the image produced by the display appears about 3 meters in front of the viewer. Using such an optical system, it is possible for the internal and the external light to both be seen clearly at the same time. It follows that, by this means, it is possible to realize a mixed display for augmented reality.
A video at the end of this article illustrates the Mix AR glasses in operation. Some of the specifications and features of the Mix AR glasses are as follows.
- 96 degree field of view.
- Two CLPL 2.1-inch displays. (Customized Low Persistence Liquid display, a technology developed by Pimax.)
- Resolution of each display 2400 x 1200.
- Frame rate 90 Hz.
- The glasses contain an accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer.
- HDMI 1.4, two USB 3.0
- Stereo 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Integrated microphone
- Weight: 130 g without the cable.
- Height: 54.0 mm. Length: 162.4 mm
- View of the outside environment is similar in brightness to a view through sunglasses.
- Inter pupillary distance can be adjusted with software settings.
- Viewer can wear most eye glasses while using Mix.
- There is a face cushion that is both washable and replaceable.
- Mix comes with a removable black VR visor and a transparent AR visor. When the VR visor is attached, all outside light is blocked enabling the user to switch Mix from an AR glasses mode to a VR mode.
In order to properly operate the Mix AR glasses, ANTVR Technology recommends utilizing a PC system that meets the following requirements:
- OS: Windows 10 (64bit).
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4590, AMD FX 8300, equivalent or better.
- Intel Core i7-6700, AMD FX 9590, equivalent or better.
- Memory: at least 8 GB RAM DDR4.
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, AMD Radeon RX 470, equivalent or better.
Mix supports positional tracking. With this approach, virtual objects remain in place in the real environment rather than moving with the viewer.
In order to allow for a variety of diverse interactions in AR, the company offers a variety of tracking and control devices. Principle features and specifications of these devices are as follows:
Outside-in tracking kit
- Price $130
- Includes 6 DoF headset marker, two 6 DoF controllers and a base station.
- Positioning FoV 100 degrees, radius 5 m.
- Positioning frequency 120 Hz.
- Battery power 4 hours.
- Input: touch pad, menu buttons, system button and a trigger.
The inside-out tracking kit
- Price $100
- Consists of a mono color stereo camera and a built in IMU.
- USB 3.0 connection
- Resolution 752 x 480 x 2
- Frame rate 500 Hz (internal), 50 Hz (external)
- Precision mm scale
- Latency <20 nm
- FoV 160 degrees H x 110 degrees V
Eye tracking module
- Price $190
- Connections USB 3.0
- Precision < 0.5 degree
- Frame rate 120 – 380 Hz
Hand tracking module
- Price $100
- Connection USB 3.0
- Range 5 – 70 cm
- FoV 140 degrees H x 122 degrees V
- Latency < 20 ms
- Frame rate 60 FPS
It is also possible to use a Vive tracker with Mix. In addition, Leap Motion can be used with Mix in the same way as with other SteamVR headsets.
3 DoF controller
- Bluetooth connection
- AAA battery. The controller needs 2 hours to fully charge. Fully charged, it can operate for more than 4 hours.
- Touch pad, menu button, system button and a trigger.
6 DoF tracking for Mix headset is calculated by the use of a so-called SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping) algorithm which fuses visual and inertial data. In the Mix headset, SLAM will be implemented in 2 steps:
- The first step is 6 DoF tracking. The company assures that this capability will be ready by the initial shipment date of Mix.
- The second step is environmental mapping. This is the ability to recognize basic planes such as the floor, the walls or the surface of a desk. The company has stated that this capability needs further optimization and will be released at a later time through a software update.
Mix is designed to be compatible with the 130+ existing SteamVR games that have a dark background. On Mix, the viewer will see the real outside environment as the background instead of the dark background.
The Mix product development process is reported as nearly complete. All of the devices discussed in this article currently exist as production prototypes. The company reports that it has fully sourced all materials needed for production. The Mix software will be updated over the next several months.
ANTVR Technology has chosen to fund the transition into production using a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign can be found here. The company quickly exceeded the modest all-or-nothing funding goal of $50,000. At the time this article is written, $189,356 had been pledged by 269 backers. With this the case, the campaign can be expected to fund on June 15th.
The company has not yet decided upon the price of the consumer version of Mix. -Arthur Berman