First Look at Canon Japan’s MREAL X1 Mixed Reality Headset

Canon isn’t often thought of as an XR company but the camera manufacturer has been involved for quite some time, it’s just that most of its kit is very high-end and enterprise-focused. Yesterday, Canon Japan revealed its latest mixed reality (MR) device in the form of the MREAL X1, due to hit the market later this year.

Canon MREAL X1
MREAL X1. Image credit Canon

Just like previous models the MREAL MD-20 and last year’s MREAL S1, the new model aims to cover a range of industrial use cases, from design and training through to product demonstrations. Keeping a similar form factor to the S1, the MREAL X1 will offer a range of improvements over its predecessor, giving it a wider field of view (FOV) so that the display area is about 2.5 times larger and a better resolution of 1920 x 2160 per-eye.

The headset also boasts 6 DOF inside-out tracking to help users walk around virtual objects, hand tracking to interact with the digital space, a 120Hz refresh rate, and an adjustable IPD range of 57-76 mm. The change in some of these features has meant that the MREAL X1 comes in a little heavier than its predecessor, adding an extra 21g – for total combined weight with the head strap of 359 g.

Because the MREAL S1 is so enterprise-focused its main use is to work with CAD (computer-aided design) software, displaying very high-resolution virtual objects. As such the headset is always cabled to a PC via a Mini DisplayPort cable.

Canon MREAL X1
MREAL X1/S1 comparison. Image credit Canon

One of the more unusual aspects of the MREAL series is the multiple ways users can interact with the headset depending on their requirements. The most common way is as a head-mounted display (HMD) using the supplied Halo head strap. But there are additional accessories whereby the device can be fitted into either the “Handheld Unit HH-4” which has two hand grips or a more compact unit that has to be placed in front of your eyes in a similar fashion to Google Cardboard.

The Canon MREAL X1 is expected to go on sale in June 2022 in Japan only just like the previous models, no price has yet been revealed. However, the mixed reality headsets won’t be cheap. The MREAL S1 – which Canon now describes as an ‘entry model’ – retails for $38,000 USD so that gives a rough idea of what companies will have to fork out.

If you’re into 180-degree photography (and who isn’t?) then Canon does have some slightly cheaper hardware. 2021 saw the release of the Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens to expand those photographic possibilities for those who have a spare £2,099.99 GBP. For further updates on Canon’s latest XR hardware, keep reading gmw3.