Canon Unveils Enterprise-focused AR Headset ‘MREAL Display MD-20’ – Road to VR


Japanese tech giant Canon today unveiled its next enterprise-focused AR headset which aims to replace its MREAL Display MD-10, which the company launched in Japan in mid-2016 for the astounding price tag of ¥9 million (~$82,300).

The PC-tethered AR headset, dubbed MREAL Display MD-20, doesn’t have a release date or price yet, although Canon is showing off the device at this year’s 3D & Virtual Reality Exhibition (IVR), which will be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan from February 26th to 28th. The news was first reported by Japanese publication MoguraVR (Japanese).

Like its predecessor, the MREAL Display MD-20 is going to be sold on the Japanese market, and is couched as a business support tool for the manufacturing industry such as automobile makers.

Image courtesy Canon

MD-20’s improvements over MD-10 include a new CMOS sensor with global shutter, something the company says will “accurately capture real-world images without distortion.”

The MD-20 is also said to have expanded the display panel’s color gamut, which boasts 2,560 × 1,600 per eye resolution, and widened the horizontal field of view by a just a few degrees, now 70° (horizontal) and 40° (vertical); MD-10 features a 60° horizontal and 40° vertical FOV.

The CMOS sensor is also used for positional tracking by generating a real-time spatial map, although businesses can purchase add-on extras such as visual markers and optical sensors (sold separately).

The MD-20 is admittedly still under development, with Canon still aiming at further miniaturization and weight reduction in addition to working on its room-scale positioning.

MREAL Display MD-20 Specs

Field of View Approx. 70° (horizontal) × 40° (vertical)
Display resolution 2,560 × 1,600 per eye
Display frequency ~60Hz
Sensor Resolution 2,560 × 2,048 per eye
Sensor Field of View  81° (horizontal) × 69° (vertical)
MREAL display body + head mount unit ~620g

The headset itself doesn’t have an official price tag yet, with the company simply stating for interested businesses to contact a Canon dealer, but if its ¥9 million (~$82,300) predecessor tells us anything, it’s going to be pretty expensive.

Not only that, but the headset also has a ton of expensive accessories too. Keep in mind that ¥100,000 is around $915, which puts many of the bits seen below (let alone the headset itself) well out of the range of anyone but the most well-funded businesses.

Product Name Price (excluding tax) Overview
MREAL Attachable Handles ¥ 85,000 MREAL Display MD-20 dedicated accessory Enables hand-held use of MREAL Display
MREAL Optical Sensor Attachment ¥ 100,000 MREAL optical sensor compatible attachment
MREAL Magnetic Sensor ¥ 60,000 MREAL system common, magnetic sensor compatible attachment
MREAL marker board (A3 size) ¥ 40,000 Marker board, A3 size corresponding to the spatial feature function of MREAL Platform
MREAL marker carpet ¥ 150,000 MREAL system common Carpet with MREAL markers placed (printed). For portable use of MREAL system
Front Access Kit ¥ 200,000 MREAL display MD-20 / MD-10, interface cable connector is on the front side, simplifying cable removal and insertion
Interface cable (20m) ¥ 130,000 MREAL display MD-20 / MD-10 common, interface cable (20m)

 

In comparison to Facebook, Magic Leap, and Microsoft, Canon has been in somewhat of a backseat position when it comes to AR/VR hardware development. The company has produced a few AR headsets, and even teased a massive hand-held VR headset too in 2015, although nothing that seems to have left Japanese shores in any appreciable quantities. As a leading manufacturer in camera sensors though, Canon is in a unique position now to enter AR/VR more seriously, as inside-out camera sensor-based tracking is becoming a standard across the industry.

With its older MD-10 platform, the company has worked with Japanese companies such as Toyota Motor Company, East Japan Railway Company, Japan’s National Science Museum, and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.



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