In this fast-paced world of rapidly increasing and increasingly competitive XR technology, it can be easy to overlook something great. One great example is ThirdEye, a company claiming to carry the world’s smallest MR glasses. So what is ThirdEye, what do they do, and why haven’t so many of us heard of them?
What Is ThirdEye?
ThirdEye has been working toward MR glasses for over twenty years, according to ThirdEye’s founder Nick Cherukuri. Early on, the project was funded by the United States Department of Defense. It is only in the last couple of years that the company has entered the private sphere.
Most readers encounter augmented reality through gaming. ThirdEye is more focused on business-to-business and industry solutions. Early partners include energy giant Exxon. ThirdEye has more recently started working in the medical field as well but we’ll get back to that later.
Their work in industry and medicine is exciting. It’s just not as flashy as work by better-known companies that market more toward entertainment.
“We’re pretty excited about where we’re going,” said Cherukuri. “In some ways, being under the radar is good.”
ThirdEye’s signature product is the X series of smart MR glasses. The glasses are only slightly larger than a regular pair of sunglasses and are entirely self-contained. Not only is the entire computer on-board, there are no external controllers or batteries.
The original X glasses premiered at demos at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show before going up for pre-order. ThirdEye returned to CES in 2019 with the X2 glasses, currently available for pre-order. A developing partnership with Verizon means that the MR glasses will be going into mass production later this year.
A Look at the X2
The X2 MR glasses use the same “inside-out” tracking technology that Oculus uses in its stand-alone headsets. The technology allows the system to establish a user’s position in space without external sensors. It’s also what allows users to use the software with gestures instead of handheld controls. More complicated tools that require controllers can work with the X2 via bluetooth.
The X2 also has a wide array of cameras and sensors including light and heat sensors. It also has a USB port so that users can use the X2 with other hardware. Further, it is capable of 3D scanning, which allows for accurate model scaling and display.
“One of the big benefits of AR is that you can still see the real world with other information laid over that,” Cherukuri told ARPost. “The future of these glasses is being able to interact with these [virtual artefacts] in the 3D environment.”
As for software, ThirdEye’s content is made with an Android-based platform. That makes it accessible to many users for a wide variety of applications. This is compared to other solutions like Magic Leap that uses its own platform complete with a steep learning curve.
“[Companies like Magic Leap] are advertising themselves as the next major platform but what we’re seeing is that when people compare the software side by side … they’re realizing that our software is much better for them,” said Cherukuri.
The Future of ThirdEye
One of the largest areas for ThirdEye is construction and many of the X2’s features speak to that. Hands-free controls allow users to manipulate the X2 while working. The noise-cancelling microphone picks up on verbal commands even in loud environments. The wireless design is also a must for some professions as a safety precaution. The compact and lightweight design also makes it wearable for long periods. And it doesn’t prevent the user from wearing safety gear like a hard hat.
“It’s something you can wear for several hours without feeling any weight on your head,” said Cherukuri.
ThirdEye is also working with the health industry to provide solutions in areas like telehealth. Using the MR glasses, healthcare providers can share what they’re seeing to receive real time instructions from other experts.
The MR glasses also have potential to help people with vision problems. The X2 can magnify what a user sees, or adjust color displays for people with colorblindness.
“The market is wide open,” concluded Cherukuri.
Correction: An earlier version of this article described ThirdEye’s glasses/technology as AR glasses/technology, rather than MR glasses/technology.