With Microsoft taking direct aim at enterprises for its HoloLens 2 with a $3,500 price tag, one startup is betting that business will be willing to pony up for glasses-free 3D displays as well.
After shipping its Looking Glass Standard (previously called the HoloPlayer One) 8.9 inch tabletop displays for glasses-free interaction with 3D content at a much lower price than the HoloLens, startup Looking Glass Factory is now digging into the other side of the market with the Looking Glass Pro Workstation, an all-in-one 3D desktop computer selling for $6,000.
While HoloPlayer One gave customers a display to pair with compatible desktops, the Looking Glass Pro Workstation includes a 15.6-inch lightfield display, a fold-out 7-inch touchscreen display, a Leap Motion controller for interacting with 3D content, and an embedded Intel NUC 8 VR computer to run the whole show.
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"After shipping thousands of standard and large Looking Glass dev kit displays to 3D content creators earlier this year, we received numerous requests from companies for a self-contained holographic solution that they could start using instantly, without needing to connect separate peripherals or an external computer, which is why today we're extremely excited to announce the launch of the Looking Glass Pro," said Shawn Frayne, co-founder and CEO of Looking Glass Factory, in a statement.
In addition, the Looking Glass Pro comes bundled with software, including the HoloPlay Unity SDK, HoloPlay plugin for Unreal Engine, and Three.js 3D library for Looking Glass, which will allow customers to get started on developing apps right out of the box.
Looking Glass aims to pitch the product to industries that can benefit from displaying 3D content. For example, medical professionals and educators could use Looking Glass Pro for visualizing imagery, such as dental scans for orthodontic patients or human anatomy for students. Marketers could deploy the displays to engage customers, as Intel Studios did in showcasing a volumetric video from Reggie Watts at SXSW. Also, product designers could apply Looking Glass Pro to simulating prototypes in 3D, while real estate and construction companies could give 3D tours of properties or building designs in 3D.
"We've found that customers can really benefit from visualizing true 3D content communally as opposed to donning a VR/AR headset to do so," said Nitin Bhargava, vice president of business development at Looking Glass Factory. "With the Looking Glass Pro, we're able to deliver what these customers need in a single unit. We're really excited to work closely with them to unlock new holographic enterprise experiences."
A special pre-order price of $5,500 will be available starting Tuesday through June 2, after which the units will revert to their regular retail price. Pre-orders will start shipping by mid-July.
The glass-free 3D is an intriguing alternative for companies where 3D data is part of their everyday operations. With more processing power than the HoloLens, the Looking Glass Pro Workstation could conceivably handle more robust 3D imagery. But the use cases are more limited than the HoloLens or even the Magic Leap One, which give uses the freedom to view and interact with 3D content throughout a user's environment, rather than on a stationary screen.
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