Big XR News from Apple, Google, XREAL, and Meta Reality Labs

CES takes over the XR industry this week, meanwhile Apple announces its Vision Pro release window

XR Big News
Mixed RealityNews Analysis

Published: January 12, 2024


Rory Greener

CES 2024 allowed 2024 to kick off with a massive splash. The trusted emerging technology show became home to many XR vendors showcasing the latest in AR/VR/MR solutions.

Countless announcements and moments from the event paint a positive picture of the months ahead, with many immersive technology firms, new and old, looking to wow audiences as XR is expected to have another wave of hype.

This new wave of hype comes from Apple’s Vision Pro MR headset, due next month, attracting eyes to the XR space with a re-envision spatial computing approach.

On the other hand, as 2024 ramps up to be pivotal in the industry, many firms are looking to cement a place in the emerging market as they find a home in countless end-user segments.

Apple Vision Pro Debuts for US Customers on February 2

Apple has confirmed that its new MR headset will be released on February 2. Pre-orders will be available from January 19. Initially, the device will only be available for US online customers and in US stores – with other regions will follow.

The Vision Pro will cost $3,499 for a 256GB storage model. Additional accessories will be available for those who require prescription glasses, but they will come at an extra cost. Apple is working with ZEISS to offer optional optical inserts for the product, including “Readers” for $99 and prescription standard optics for $149.

To ensure the utmost comfort and usability, additional Vision Pro accessories will be available, such as the solo knit band, dual loop band, light seal, two light seal cushions, an Apple Vision Pro cover, polishing cloth, battery, USB-C charge cable, and USB-C power adapter.

Apple will also launch an accompanying App Store for the Vision Pro, containing over one million spatial applications. These apps will work alongside iOS and iPadOS products, allowing Vision Pro users to leverage the device alongside familiar Apple products.

The app store will offer immersive solutions catering to productivity, notably for working, peer-to-peer collaboration, and viewing reference material.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, added:

The era of spatial computing has arrived. Apple Vision Pro is the most advanced consumer electronics device ever created. Its revolutionary and magical user interface will redefine how we connect, create, and explore.

Google Axes Hundreds of AR Hardware Jobs

Recent reports suggest that Google is downsizing a significant part of its 1P AR hardware team, which raises doubts about the future of its in-house XR product portfolio. This restructuring comes after teaming up with Qualcomm and Samsung to use the newly announced Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 chipset for enhancing smart glasses.

Google is laying off many employees in different areas of the company, and most of the downsizing is affecting its 1P AR hardware team that was previously working on its smart glasses hardware, including the now cancelled “Iris” prototype.

In a statement, Google announced:

A few hundred roles are being eliminated in DSPA, with the majority of impacts on the 1P AR Hardware team. While we are making changes to our 1P AR hardware team, Google continues to be deeply committed to other AR initiatives, such as AR experiences in our products and product partnerships.

XREAL Debuts XREAL Air 2 Ultra AR Glasses Debut

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024 in Las Vegas, AR smart glasses seller XREAL exhibited its new Air 2 Ultra product, showcasing its recent success stories in the XR device marketplace.

XREAL officially announced the Air 2 Ultra last week. The company claims it to be an affordable way to experience spatial computing.

XREAL has now made pre-orders available for approximately $699, with plans to ship products in March. Visitors at the CES are getting hands-on experience with the product. Chi Xu, the Founder and CEO of XREAL, said:

With XREAL Air 2 Ultra we’re empowering developers around the world by providing an affordable and lightweight solution that allows them to jump into the exciting world of spatial computing and create the next generation of mixed reality experiences.

According to recent reports, XREAL has claimed to have shipped around 350,000 pairs of AR glasses since the company was founded in 2017. Moreover, IDC, a market watcher, has stated that XREAL was responsible for 51% of all AR glasses shipped in Q3 of last year, making it the leading player in the industry.

Chi Xu explained that this shipment number is a significant milestone in revolutionizing how people experience various things, from video games to movies and TV shows, in-car entertainment and displays, and how they work at their desks or on the go.

Xu also added:

Having secured a major foothold in the global wearable display market, XREAL is now in a stronger position to embrace market momentum and reaffirm its position as the leading, best-selling AR glasses and spatial computing brand in the world today, who’s trajectory is outpacing the rest of the industry combined.

Meta Reality Labs Faces Potential Shutdown

Last month, Meta’s Reality Labs division received a citation from the Seattle Department of Labor & Industries due to health and safety concerns at its Matrix testing facility.

This citation could close the facility until Meta meets the required working standards or challenges the decision. The citation was issued in 2022; an amended filing was submitted last month.

Meta is now responding to the King County Superior Court citation to vacate the order. The company insists that its Matrix facility complies with all local health and safety standards.

The Seattle department filed its most recent citation in mid-December, and Meta plans to fight the filing in June.

AR Smart GlassesMixed Reality HeadsetsWearables

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