Big Tech is pouring billions of dollars into what?!

Johnny Reid
Feb 13, 2023

MR & AR are set to revolutionize computing, and every big tech player wants a piece. It’s one of the top current investments for FAANG. Enterprise appears to be the current target, but as the technology evolves, the consumer will be the end target. 

Update On Mixed Reality Headset Devices
New mixed reality headsets are coming

Google Secretly Developing Mixed Reality HMD…

Well well… just about everyone thought Alphabet was giving up on Google Glass. They are, in a sense. After a “failed” Google Glass experiment for enterprise, they had to completely restructure their AR & MR development plans. 

In June of 2020, Google acquired North, a consumer facing AR smart glasses company. Since then we have heard very little about what they have been up to, until now…

Leaks from credible sources report they have established a secret division called Google Labs, which is dedicated to the development of new AR/MR/VR products, operating systems, and other metaverse developments. Rumors point to Clay Bavor as the leader of this 300 worker strong team.

Some of Bavor’s previous projects set to launch in the coming years include ARCore, Google Lens, and Project Starline. Interesting details recently revealed Project Starline is a high-resolution video call booth that uses 3D display technology and sensors to project the person you are speaking with directly in front of you in physical space.

Their mixed reality head mounted display has leaked under the title of Project Iris. Google is targeting a 2024 launch date. Sources say the current prototypes are eerily similar to a pair of ski goggles. Apple is announcing their mixed reality HMD soon, and renderings show similar design concepts.

Google in 2023 is reportedly dividing its AR efforts into two teams: Devices & Services and Platforms & Ecosystems. Devices & Services, led by Rick Osterloh, will focus on consumer hardware like Pixel, Nest, and AR glasses. Meanwhile, Platforms & Ecosystems, led by Hiroshi Lockheimer, will handle partnerships, such as the recent deal with Samsung for Android-powered AR headsets. Google aims to incorporate AR technology into its services, and despite the failure of Google Glass, the 2.0 version is still used in various industries.

Mixed Reality Competition Is Heating Up

It looks like everyone is a little jealous of Microsoft’s pure DOMINANCE of the mixed reality market with their Hololens 2. Funny how articles in the past few weeks have reported that the Hololens 3 was “dead”--which were then quickly squashed…it looks like the competition in this market is about to heat up.

We will be seeing quite a few new MR headsets announced and released in late 2022-2025. The ones we are most excited about are Microsoft’s Hololens 3, Apple Reality Pro, Magic Leap 2, and Google’s Project Iris.

The first mountain to be conquered in the mixed reality space resides at the enterprise level–where Microsoft currently has the majority market share. Over half of fortune 500 companies have purchased Hololens 2 units, and it outperforms every mixed reality HMD currently on the market. 

A study of 3000 leading enterprises across the globe reports that 49% have already adopted mixed reality, with 19% planning to adopt in the near future. No wonder we are seeing Apple and Google get into the mix with their next headsets mimicking the Hololens 2.

Magic Leap 2 Improvements

One of the most noticeable improvements in the Magic Leap 2 is its increased field of view, which has been expanded from 50° to 70° diagonally. This makes the Magic Leap 2 feel more immersive, as you have a wider view of the augmented content around you and don't need to spend as much time searching for it when it falls outside your field of view.

While the wider field of view is certainly impressive, it's important to note that the design of the Magic Leap 2, like its predecessor, blocks a significant portion of your real-world peripheral vision, which makes the field of view appear larger than it actually is in comparison.

Apple Headset Rumors

Apple will use a 4K micro OLED display from Sony for the center of each eye's image, with an LG display in the peripherals, as previously rumored. The headset also includes eye tracking and foveated rendering, which conserves power by only rendering the user's exact point of focus in high detail. It is equipped with two LiDAR scanners for short and long range, and more than a dozen inward and outward facing cameras that can even detect the legs of the person wearing the headset.

The headset is expected to have a strong focus on education and XR video conferencing, with realistic avatars that accurately reflect facial and body movements. The AI system will use sensor data to estimate movements such as eyebrow and jaw movements in the avatar.

MIT Breakthrough Invention

MIT has developed a new technology to create high-resolution, defect-free displays with microscopic, full-color LEDs. The conventional method of placing red, green, and blue LEDs side by side creates a limit in size, resulting in a "screen door effect" in close-range displays such as AR/VR devices. The new technology stacks the LEDs to create vertical pixels, which generates the full range of colors and measures 4 microns wide. With a density of 5,000 pixels per inch, it is the smallest and highest pixel density reported in journals.

The technology, called micro-LEDs, could perform better, require less energy and last longer than organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), but requires a high level of precision to ensure exact alignment. The MIT team has come up with a less wasteful method of fabricating micro-LEDs that doesn't require precise alignment, by stacking the pixels vertically instead of horizontally. The team plans to continue improving the technology, which has been supported by various organizations and agencies.

2023 & Beyond

MR & AR are set to revolutionize computing, and every big tech player wants a piece. It’s one of the top current investments for FAANG. Enterprise appears to be the current target, but as the technology evolves, the consumer will be the end target. 

“Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision for $68.7B was really a play to acquire their 3D modeling assets and capabilities for use in the mixed reality metaverse.”
- Johnny Reid, Lead Optimization Envisioneer at goHere®

We envision a realistic consumer adoption timeline of mixed reality devices around 2024-2025–depending on how R&D production timelines go. For now, we are watching intently to see every manufacturer’s next move.