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Forget Apple Glasses – Samsung’s AR Glasses concept will blow you away

Samsung AR Glasses concept
Samsung AR Glasses concept

Are you eagerly anticipating the long-rumored Apple Glasses?  Samsung has not one but two glasses shown in two leaked concept videos that will blow you away.

For several years now, Apple has been rumored to be working on AR-enhanced glasses similar to the infamous Google Glass.  However, in the past month, the speculation among industry commentators is that Apple was working on an 8K VR headset with a $3000 price tag, rather than glasses.  Meanwhile, two videos have surfaced showing that Samsung could be closer to producing what people have been hoping for in Apple Glasses.

Are these real products?

The videos were leaked on Twitter by Walking Cat, who has been a reliable source.  For example,  s/he disclosed Quest 2 photos that eventually proved accurate.  Moreover, there is at least one Samsung patent for similar glasses.  The production value of the videos seems high, and the Samsung branding, seems convincing with the correct Samsung fonts and the glasses used alongside real Samsung products.  Watch the videos and you can decide.  In the summary, I also offer my assessment on whether these are actual products.

Glasses Lite

The first video is entitled Glasses Lite and shows a concept of glasses that appear to use transparent LCDs, similar to AR glasses such as Microsoft Hololens.  However, the LCDs are hidden behind electrochromic glasses that can be dimmed or tinted electronically.  The video shows the glasses being used as a large virtual monitor for video games, movies, video calls, office work, and even for flying drones.  The video also shows the glasses being used as a display for DEX, Samsung’s platform for using mobile phones as desktop PCs.

Here’s the video:

Although this concept shows the use of transparent LCDs similar to those used in AR glasses, the uses envisioned in this concept video are actually not AR, and instead merely show the glasses used primarily as a virtual monitor.  It seems the display will not track your head movement (note how the actor’s head is mostly stationary when he’s viewing the virtual displays).

The concept as shown here should be easily doable, with the possible limitation of resolution.  I also hope they have some kind of gyro-based image stabilization feature that would make the virtual display somewhat steady instead of bobbing up or down with the smallest movements of my head.  Given the relative simplicity of these glasses, we could see them as early as this year (assuming this is a real product).  Hopefully the Glasses Lite will have sufficiently high resolution to be able to read and type small text, and can communicate smoothly with phones and smartwatches, as shown in the concept video.

AR Glasses

While the Glasses Lite showed glasses used as a virtual 2D display, a second video called “AR Glasses” has a more ambitious concept that does show true AR capabilities.   This video shows glasses that enable the user to see AR objects in 3D, overlaid on the real world.  The video also shows the user interacting with them with his hands.  For example, it shows an AR keyboard on a table surface that can be used as an actual keyboard, which implies the ability to detect not just hands but even individual finger positions accurately and quickly.  While some AR glasses can detect gestures, and both Oculus Quest and Quest 2 have finger tracking, I’m not aware of any VR or AR headset that can detect fingers accurately enough to use an AR keyboard without additional peripherals (researchers have been able to track fingers for typing with the use of many trackers mounted on gloves).

The video also purports to show glasses that are capable of a fully immersive view, as shown in the segment called “AR simulation.”  Current AR glasses cannot do this because they have a limited field of view — the AR objects that you’ll see are limited to a small area of the glasses.  Objects at the edge of this small area will appear cutoff.  However, AR glasses that use a VR passthrough view such as Lynx theoretically may be able to show an immersive view similar to what is shown in the video.  However, as of February 2021, there is no known VR headset as compact as the glasses shown in the video, whether standalone or tethered.  This could mean that these AR Glasses are just a concept that could take years to produce.

Summary

The two videos appear to be real Samsung corporate videos.  Whether these are actual Samsung products is less clear.  The first concept called Glasses Lite seems simple enough to produce, with no significant technological innovations required.  The only question is whether Samsung believes there is sufficient demand for a product like this to make it economically viable to produce.
The second concept called AR Glasses shows the true potential of AR and would be truly groundbreaking if it is real.  Unfortunately, several aspects do not yet seem possible with commercially available technology and may take at least a few more years to realize.  But if it does show what Samsung is working on, it looks very promising and I can’t wait for Samsung to produce them.
What do you think of these concepts?  Would you be interested in using either of them if they did become available?  Let me know in the comments!