ASUS, Lenovo & Xbox Are All Making XR Headsets Running Meta’s New Third-party Friendly Operating System

Meta today announced it’s opening its operating system to third-parties, and has named three heavy weights that have pledged support for its newly renamed Meta Horizon OS: Asus, Lenovo, and Microsoft’s Xbox.

In a blog post, Meta says it’s tapped ASUS’s Republic of Gamers to develop an “all-new performance gaming headset,” Lenovo to “develop mixed reality devices for productivity, learning, and entertainment,” and Xbox to create its own limited-edition Quest, “inspired by Xbox.”

The company hasn’t shown any of the headsets as such, but this symbolizes a monolithic shift in how the company is controlling its hardware-software stack, likening it to a more Android-style approach as opposed to Apple’s walled garden approach with iOS and Apple Vision Pro.

Admittedly, Meta doesn’t appear to be opening its OS up to just anyone, as all of the devices announced above will likely run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs, built specifically for XR. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has however said they’re working with “more” OEMs, so that list may be expanding fairly soon.

“All of these devices will benefit from our long-term collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., which builds the Snapdragon processors that are tightly integrated with our software and hardware stacks,” Meta says in the announcement, noting that companies building hardware for this new ecosystem can also “leverage the benefits of these chipsets and custom software enhancements.”

There’s plenty of room for speculation at this point since the announcement is so sparse with details. Xbox’s pledge to create the limited-edition Quest will be interesting to watch. Although it could be just a simple branding deal, it may also be an opportunity for Xbox to use it as a nucleation site for eventually integrating XR headsets into the Xbox ecosystem—or beyond Meta’s previously added support for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Quest, which lets players play 2D virtual screen in mixed and virtual reality.

What’s more, all of the OEMs working with Meta have built VR headsets before, the most notable of which were the fleet of Windows Mixed Reality PC VR headsets released in 2017, which included manufacturers Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, Acer, HP, and Dell. Microsoft subsequently shut down the Windows Mixed Reality platform in late 2023.

Meta says it’s bringing the “Horizon social layer currently powering Meta Quest devices” to to the third-party hardware in its new Horizon OS ecosystem, which comes part an parcel with the newly renamed ‘Meta Horizon’ app and Horizon Store (ex-Quest Store).

The post ASUS, Lenovo & Xbox Are All Making XR Headsets Running Meta’s New Third-party Friendly Operating System appeared first on Road to VR.

Motorola & Verizon Aim to Reduce XR Headset Bulk With 5G Neckband

When it comes to mass-market adoption of virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses one of the biggest issues the industry faces is that of bulk. Lenses, screens, batteries and processors, it’s quite a lot to have perched on your face. Progress has been made to redistribute some of the hardware, with the latest idea from Motorola and Verizon being a “5G Neckband” to help make head-worn devices lighter.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3
Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3

As reported by Engadget, the companies have taken the approach where the neckband will house components like the processor, connectivity (5G/WiFi) and the battery, leaving the headset/glasses to purely focus on the visual aspect. Thus reducing overall weight whilst encouraging a smaller form factor.

Details released so far showcase the device being paired with Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 smart glasses – Lenovo is the parent company of Motorola – although there’s mention that the intention is for the neckband to work with other devices.

As for specifications, the 5G Neckband will contain a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 5,000mAh battery; a touchpad, a SIM card slot, and a charging light indicator. All in a form factor coming in at 54 x 97mm (2.1 x 3.8 inches) and weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Then there’s all the connectivity and sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer and GPS all feature as well as the 5G antennae. And that’s just the front pendant.

Magic Leap
Magic Leap One with its external processor.

That’s right, the neckband has a rear “trapezoid-shaped module” which houses antenna and stereo loudspeakers weighing 75 grams (2.6 ounces). There’s no imagery of the rear unit but the companies have said both are connected via coaxes and signal lines. As you can see from the solitary image the cabling looks quite chunky with a magnetic attachment.

“We took a smartphone and exploded it around your neck,” said vice president of technology at Verizon Brian Mecum. “We don’t introduce new form factors or new compute platforms very often in the industry. If we can make it easier for kids to learn and we can make it easier for people in sports leagues to learn without the complexity and friction of big heavy things around their head, it’ll change.”

Details regarding pricing and availability have yet to be revealed but Motorola and Verizon did mention talks are underway with several major partners.

The idea of taking components like the processor and battery out and making them external to the main headset is nothing new. Devices like Magic Leap have been doing that for years but this is a more novel attempt at making an easily worn (almost) fashionable system.

As further details are released, gmw3 will keep you updated.

Qualcomm Unveils its XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design

Qualcomm XR1 Lifestyle

Mixed reality (MR) glasses are looking to become the new norm with models like the Nreal Light already available whilst concepts such as Samsung’s AR Glasses are still to come. One of the biggest proponents of this field is Qualcomm which has previously spoken about the influx of XR viewers. Today, Qualcomm has taken a step further into this area by announcing its XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design.

Qualcomm XR1 AR Reference Design

Being a reference design it’ll never be available to buy in this exact form as it is intended to help OEMs reduce the time it takes to bring AR glasses to market. Designed to connect to compatible 5G smartphones, PC’s and other devices via cable, unlike simpler AR glasses where all the processing is supplied by an external device, Qualcomm’s XR1 AR Smart Viewer offers split-processing. That means computing workloads can be distributed between both devices seeing a ‘30% reduction in overall power consumption’ Qualcomm claims.

The XR1 AR Smart Viewer hardware design developed by Goertek features a micro-OLED binocular display from BOE, with a 90Hz refresh rate for a smooth experience; hand tracking, 6DoF tracking by two B&W cameras; plane detection and image stabilisation. Other specs include a 45-degree FOV, fixed IPD, a 220mAh battery, 2 speakers and 3 mics.

“The Snapdragon XR1 AR smart viewer marks a new chapter for our reference design portfolio and a big step in the evolution of AR viewers,” said Hugo Swart, vice president and general manager of XR, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. in a statement. “AR simple viewers showcased viewers as an accessory to a smartphone. Now, AR smart viewers allow us to move some processing to the glass, to expand the possibilities of use cases, applications and immersion -this reference design is the first step in our roadmap to help scale the AR industry.”

Qualcomm XR1 AR Reference Design

The first showcase of the XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design actually occurred during CES 2021 last month. Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 glasses are powered by the Snapdragon XR1 Platform. The device is focused on enterprise solutions, set to come to market in mid-2021.

Qualcomm – like many companies – envisions these smart viewers as primary work tools, creating virtual monitors to write on or holographic models for training. But the consumer market will also be involved so you can watch videos on the train, check on your social media or play a videogame.

As more of these designs come to market, VRFocus will continue to keep you updated.

Lenovo Targets Mid-2021 For ThinkReality A3 AR Glasses

This week as part of CES 2021, Lenovo announced its new model of AR glasses, the ThinkReality A3.

The A3 is a successor to the ThinkReality A6 headset from 2019, which was an enterprise-focused AR headset aimed at taking on similar offerings from Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“The smart glasses are part of a comprehensive integrated digital solution from Lenovo that includes the advanced AR device, ThinkReality software, and Motorola mobile phones,” said Jon Pershke, Lenovo Vice President of Strategy and Emerging Business. Like the A6, the A3 is an enterprise-focused AR device.

Inside the ThinkReality A3 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, stereoscopic 1080p displays, an 8MP camera for 1080p video and dual fish-eye cameras for roomscale tracking. The headset will tether to a PC or select Motorola smartphones via USB-C, depending on the edition of the glasses.

The A3 PC Edition can tether to a laptop or PC in order to “enable users to position multiple, large virtual monitors in their field of view and use Windows software tools and applications.” Lenovo says the virtual monitors are “optimized and compatible” with its ThinkPad laptops and other mobile workstations that use Intel and AMD processors.

Lenovo ThinkReality A3

The A3 Industrial Edition will tether to Motorola smartphones that have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series or better, providing “hands-free, AR-supported tasks in complex work environments … supported by the ThinkReality software platform, which enables commercial customers to build, deploy, and manage mixed reality applications and content on a global scale.”

Lenovo says the ThinkReality A3 glasses will be available “in select markets worldwide starting mid-2021,” with no word on pricing.