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Lenovo Takes on HoloLens with New AR Headset, Platform

Airbus an early adopter...

By CBR Staff Writer

Chinese multinational Lenovo is making a foray into the highly competitive world of augmented reality (AR) wearables, today launching its ThinkReality A6 glasses – the first product in a new AR line marketed under the “ThinkReality” brand.

Dubbing it “small but mighty”, Lenovo said the headset weighs just 380g (0.83lbs) and has a 40-degree diagonal field of view with 1080p resolution per eye. The battery is worn separately to reduce weight. The company has yet to confirm a price but says it will be “competitive”. (Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 retails at $3,500).

Revealing it at the company’s annual Accelerate summit in Orlando, Florida, Lenovo’s VP, Strategy & Emerging Business Development, Jon Pershke said: “We’ve been working with some of our largest enterprise accounts to develop this. But it’s not just a headset. The real star of this show is the device and cloud-agnostic platform…”

Accompanying goodies will include a range of APIs, an SDK for customers to build their own apps with, a portal through which IT can track device telemetry data and more. Lenovo said it is building out a full AR hardware, software and services offering; with an estimated 2.7 billion deskless workers globally, there’s a lot to play for.

New Lenovo AR Headset: The Specs

The Android-based headset is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile XR Platform, and features Lumus‘ waveguide optics running off an Intel Movidius Vision Processing Unit. (The 845 chipset boasts peak LTE download speeds of 1.2 Gbps).

By way of contrast, most obvious rival the Microsoft’s Hololens 2 weighs in at  566g and runs on the Snapdragon 850; a chipset with similar firepower to the 845, but designed for Windows. It has an estimated horizontal field of view of 43-degrees.)

Airbus an Early Adopter

Pershke said: “We’ve spent a lot of time with customers on this. An early adopter has been Airbus. They came and lived with us before Christmas last year. Using our [ThinkReality] platform they built a complex aircraft maintenance application and had it up and running in six weeks; pretty much unheard of in this industry.”

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Lenovo sees the glasses fitting into its broader portfolio of “Think”-based offerings (e.g. its ThinkIoT platform): “Imagine a doctor using AR glasses to view X-rays on the cloud, or a warehouse associate aided by a high-performance camera sensor that can identify whether packages are put on the right pallet within 200 milliseconds of picking up a box via a QR code on the sticker – all made possible through ThinkIoT’s warehouse automation solution”, the company said at its “Accelerate” event in Florida.

 

lenovo AR headset

Lenovo’s “ThinkReality A6” Augmented Reality headset. Credit: Lenovo

Read this: Startup RealWear Wins Major Digital Headset Deal with Shell

The market is a tough one to crack however, and a crowded one. The most recent major contract winner came from left-field, with US startup RealWare clinching a major contract with Shell to provide it with headsets for frontline workers in 12 countries, but Lenovo thinks it has an advantage: the ability to work closely with existing enterprise partners to develop a toolkit that has been stress-tested by and works for them .

Pershke said: “We are attacking this market in a much more aggressive way than we have in the past. Are we focused on this because we though Pokemon Go was cool? No – vision is far away the best way for humans to communicate information. Skilled workforces are declining and retiring.”

“AR is a new computing platform that will be transformative to IT.”

The headset will ship with gesture control, as well as a small handheld controller.

 

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