Optinvent to Release AR Headphone Design

France-based Optinvent was at CES 2015 to show some current AR headsets and to gather support for a new design it intends to bring to market by Q3’15.

While the new design is headphone-based, the current Pro HMD product, which began shipping at the end of December, is a more traditional smart eyeglasses style.  It features a single ocular design with a nice (patented) positioning mechanism so you can move the optic down close to your cheek in the lower part of your visual field.

This is a standalone product and is essentially a tablet eyeglasses device.  It runs on Android KitKat using an app that can be downloaded from the Goggle Play store.  The image is generated by an LCOS panel from HiMax and an LED panel that can generate a very high 3000 nits at the eye.  The field of view is 25 degrees and is generated in a plastic waveguide with an array of un-polarized prisms to extract the image.  This is a simple design that simply bonds the molded prism to the outside of the waveguide, which is much simpler and less expensive than the internal extraction mechanism (stacked polarized reflectors) used by Lumus in its see-thru optic.  Optinvent also adds a photochromic coating to the optic so it will darken when in a bright ambient to help see the image.

Optinvent has a number of customers who are evaluating the device for use in logistics, avionics, medical and maintenance applications.  It includes a 5 megapixel camera too for remote assistance applications.

Before we tried on the monocular headset, one has to add a dioptor lens to replicate your eyeglasses prescription so you do not wear your eyeglasses. It would definitely be preferable to allow users to wear their eyeglasses as no one eye is uncompensated.  The image was definitely bright in the high ambient Sands Expo and the ability to move the image in and out of center of your field of view is a very nice feature, although the mechanism to do this took a little getting used to.

Optinvent also was showing a mock-up of its next generation product which the company is calling ORA-X.  This will take the same basic electronics and optic and repackage them into an adjustable arm attached to a set of headphones.  This is like taking a call center headset with a mic boom and creating a video boom instead.  By taking all this tablet functionality off the eyeglasses frame form factor, Optinvent has more packaging options to help create a more favorable and stylish design.  This is likely to be well received by its customers.

Optinvent ORA X eyewear

The ORA-X is still in development and Optinvent is working with a headphone partner to perfect the design – and audio characteristic of the headset.  Specs include:

  • Large, transparent virtual display
  • High fidelity speakers w/ active noise cancellation
  • Microphone (for calls and voice commands)
  • Front-facing camera
  • 9 axis motion sensor
  • Wireless connectivity (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS)
  • Trackpad (mouse and swipe) for tactile interactions with the device
  • High capacity Li-Ion rechargeable battery
  • Powerful microprocessor (ARM 9 @ 1.2 GHz) and GPU with enough memory to support complex applications

The new design will upgrade the optical module as well including a move to a new 0.29” WVGA LCOS  panel from HiMax.  Overall, the optical module will experience a reduction of 60% in volume and 40% in power consumption, plus a reduction in weight.

Optinvent current future optical modules

“Smart Glasses have been plagued by what I call a ‘paradigm prison’. You can’t make a fashion accessory out of them no matter how hard you try. Consumers are just not ready to embrace looking geeky for the added functionality”, says Kayvan Mirza, CEO and Co-Founder of Optinvent. “The ORA-X is a clean break from this paradigm”.

Optinvent is focused on the B2B market and thinks it offers several advantages over its competitors.  This includes price (the Pro HMD is $995, which the company compares to the dual optics AR device from Ousterhut Design Group at $5K), efficiency, image quality and user experience.  The Pro HMD is available now in the wearables section of Amazon store and it will sell the ORA-X when available this Fall.