Master director Steven Spielberg's virtual reality epic Ready Player One is coming to theaters in just a few weeks, but you can get an early look at some of the best parts the latest trailer, "Come With Me," which was revealed on Thursday.
But while the film is supposed to be all about VR, I noticed something interesting after looking closely at the new trailer: It's filled with what appear to be concept designs of future AR smartglasses. To more specific, the designs appear to show off the HMD holy grail so often talked about by futurecasters, that is, a hybrid device that works both as AR smartglasses and as a VR headset.
This first one looks almost exactly like a pair of ski goggles, except for the side-mounted modules (sensors?) and the graphics interface being displayed on the lens. In the last couple of years, startups like RideOn have shown off similar, real-life versions of this. But the similarities mostly end at the superficial level, as RideOn's real version appears to use a Google Glass-style eyepiece to display imagery.
The next image features the lead character Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan) wearing what looks like a cross between the visor worn by the X-Men's Cyclops and a pair of old-school Paulson Bubble Goggles. (Fun fact, Sheridan plays Cyclops in the latest series of X-Men movies. Yep, he's being typecast as the goggles guy.)
In a number of scenes, which depict the character as immersed in VR, we see graphics streaming over the surface of Watts' goggles, but you can always see through the lenses to his eyes.
Perhaps this is just a technique being used in the film to show the audience a hint of what the user is seeing in VR, but it nevertheless hints at what near future AR smartglasses may look like to onlookers.
In another scene, we're shown a character who appears to be interacting with a character in VR as she wearing what looks like a sleeker version of today's very real DAQRI Smart Helmet.
Finally, the last pair of smartglasses we see in the trailer look more like traditional VR glasses (albeit a futuristic version of such), but the general lens face still looks fairly translucent, indicating a possible dual use device.
Sure, these are all just science fiction designs, and the trailers don't indicate that any AR is shown off in the film. But as we move toward the future of smartglasses capable of dual AR meets VR functionality, these cinematic concept designs are probably as close to what they'll really look like as we've seen yet.