One of China's largest smartphone makers, Oppo, just took the wraps off its new design for augmented reality smartglasses called AR Glass 2021.
The reveal was part of the company's annual Oppo Inno Day, where various forward-looking tech initiatives are put on display. But unlike what they showed off last year, this year's AR product looks a lot more like something ready for the mainstream market.
While the west's AR is still mostly focused on high-end headsets and smartphone screens, China is still leading the charge toward pairing your smartphone's processing power with a pair of lightweight smartglasses. Oppo's AR Glass 2021 uses a simple birdbath optical design similar to that of fellow Chinese AR company Nreal.
It's always difficult to discuss new augmented reality hardware like this without actually putting hands on the device. For example, the company hasn't detailed what the device's field of view is, instead opting to say that you can experience the equivalent of a large 90-inch video screen when wearing the smartglasses.
There's also no word on when these will hit the global market (beyond the 2021 naming convention). However, Oppo has indicated in recent months that it has no plans to release its smartphones in the U.S., which, in addition to competitive issues, may also speak to the current trade tensions between China and the U.S. that have plagued companies like China's popular TikTok app around the issue of privacy.
Nevertheless, Oppo is aggressively rolling out its AR initiative in other markets, with plans to introduce an SDK and developer program next year in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
In addition to the hardware, the company announced Oppo CybeReal, a software tool the company describes as a real-time spatial calculation AR application. In short, the app promises to create a precise digital model of the real world around you to aid with mapping and positioning.
Promotional videos of the app also display what appear to be AR overlays over real-world locations, which are, according to Oppo, fueled by a connection to cloud computing networks.
It all looks amazing and sounds promising, but we'll hold off on directly comparing these to existing products until we can actually test out these claims. In the meantime, what's most important is that Nreal now has a powerful new competitor on its own soil, a development that will likely drive even more AR competition in Asia, and, by proxy, globally.