Market Reality: Magic Leap Virtual Meetings App, More Apple AR Headset Rumors, & Lenovo Unveils Enterprise Smartglasses

Magic Leap Virtual Meetings App, More Apple AR Headset Rumors, & Lenovo Unveils Enterprise Smartglasses

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. At Magic Leap, the lemons are the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lemonade is a new solution for virtual meetings born out of social distancing.

As reports of Apple's long-awaited AR wearable begin to kick up again (and designers continue to show off their concepts for the device), two Chinese companies, Lenovo and Rokid, unveiled their latest smartglasses offerings.

Finally, Snapchat users found not one but two opportunities to insert AR into the pomp and circumstance of the 2021 US Presidential Inauguration.

Magic Leap Built Its Own AR Virtual Meetings App to Overcome Social Distancing

The past year has revealed a gaping hole of opportunity in the world of business called virtual meetings. Some existing players like Zoom hopped on that opportunity, while others like Skype seemed stuck on the sidelines, and Google Meet just managed to catch up in time to snag some of the shift in remote work.

But amid that shift, one question that has repeatedly come up is: Where are the augmented reality tools that promised to help us navigate this new remote frontier? While many upstarts and established players have gradually moved to meet our new needs, it turns out that Magic Leap is also working on its own solution to support the newly robust virtual meetings market.

Continue reading to find out what Magic Leap has been working on to fill the virtual meetings vacuum...

REALITY BITES: Rio Caraeff, who served as chief content officer at Magic Leap for five years until May 2020, is now chief commercial officer for spatial audio startup Syng. Also, Alessia Laidacker, formerly interaction lab director at Magic Leap, is now the AR/XR creative director for creative agency Spatial Activations and co-founder of design firm Mixed Flour.

Lenovo Takes Another Shot at Enterprise AR with ThinkReality A3 Smartglasses

Roughly a year and a half after unveiling the HoloLens-like ThinkReality A6, Lenovo is back with its take on enterprise-grade smartglasses, and the results look impressive. Then again, looks can be deceiving.

On Sunday, a day ahead of the opening of the virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Lenovo took the wraps off of the ThinkReality A3, a sleek pair of smartglasses designed for office and field roles in enterprises and scheduled to begin shipping by mid-2021 to select markets worldwide for an undisclosed price.

Read further for more details on Lenovo's next take on AR wearables for enterprise business and how the company plans to set itself apart from the competition...

REALITY BITES: 3D commerce company Marxent has closed a Series C round of funding of an undisclosed amount. Boasting clients such as Lowe's Home Improvement, Ashley HomeStore, Macy's, and La-Z-Boy, among others, the company will apply the capital towards international expansion and new product development.

Rokid Vision 2 Separates from Chinese Competitors with Distinct Design

Ever since China's Nreal unveiled its Light smartglasses at CES two years ago, an army of look-alikes have emerged from the Asian nation.

We can also count Rokid among the companies blazing a different trail. During its recent Rokid Open Day virtual event conducted at its Hangzhou headquarters, the company revealed Rokid Vision 2, which follows in the footsteps of its predecessor with a unique look compared to its competitors.

Read on to learn more about Rokid Vision 2 and how it compares to the Nreal Light...

REALITY BITES: App Annie's annual State of Mobile report offers some interesting insights with regard to AR apps. Among top grossing apps, TikTok ranked second, while Pokemon GO claimed the same spot among games. In app rankings by monthly average users, six of the top ten include AR features. Finally, Snapchat ranked as the top app that Gen-Z consumers were most likely to use, with TikTok coming in third. One dark spot: AR apps were limited to social and shopping categories, with the exception of Pokemon GO among games.

Apple Preparing AR/VR Headset with 2022 Launch

The latest whispers about Apple's plans to launch its long-awaited (yet still unconfirmed) augmented reality device hits several familiar notes, but lands on a different refrain.

Now, rumors of a hybrid AR/VR headset, previously thought to be scrapped in favor of smartglasses with less-immersive capabilities, have emerged from yet another source.

Keep reading for more breadcrumbs on Apple's path to launching its first AR device...

Apple Glasses concept. Image via Dominik Hofacker

Design Concept Reimagines Mac OS for Apple AR Smartglasses

The focus on augmented reality over at Apple is, so far, restricted to the iPhone and the iPad. But if some of the most reliable analysts in the business are to be believed, we'll probably see some kind of AR or VR wearable from the company later this year.

But what will that look like? Well, designer Dominik Hofacker has a few ideas, and they're so good they're worth examining.

Read on for Hofacker's vision of Mac OS for Apple AR smartglasses...

REALITY BITES: Happy trails to Minecraft Earth, which will close its virtual doors in June. In a blog post, the team cited the on-going COVID-19 pandemic as its primary reason for shifting resources away from the location-based AR game to other areas of need.

President Biden Welcomes Virtual Audience to Inauguration via Snapchat AR Lens

The United States is poised to begin a new political era this week, but due to recent events in Washington, D.C., as well as the ongoing pandemic, the traditional inauguration crowds are absent.

Nevertheless, thanks to the power of Snapchat, you can be there, virtually. A new Lens released by President-elect Joe Biden's team allows you to put yourself on the steps of the Capitol Building in celebration of the new U.S. president's entry into office.

Continue reading to experience the Snapchat AR experience for yourself, then read further for a camera effect from the Lens Studio community focused on Senator Bernie Sanders's viral cameo from the event...

Images via President Joe Biden, Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Every Friday, Next Reality reviews the latest headlines from the financial side of augmented and mixed reality. This weekly Market Reality column covers funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and the like. Check out previous editions of Market Reality for more news you may have missed.

Cover image via Lenovo

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