The company PhotonLens was announced in November of 2020 to bring consumer AR to the world, specifically the Americas and Europe. At the time of the announcement, some technical details were announced for the flagship “Photons” product, but a release date had not yet been made available.
At a special launch event on June 15, PhotonLens announced that the Kickstarter campaign for the glasses will begin on August 18 and last for 45 days. Shipping is set to begin in early December of this year.
Having covered the PhotonLens company announcement at the 2020 Mobile World Conference, ARPost received a special invitation to attend the Photons launch event on June 15. The event took place on Zoom and was hosted by Sunrise International’s Vice President of US Partnerships Keating Sherry.
“We’re thrilled to be finally sharing Photons,” said Sherry.
The event featured four PhotonLens executives, including both co-founders. The whole team stayed after the initial launch event to answer questions from remote attendees in a live Q&A.
Exploring Use Cases With Patrick Liu
Much of the presentation was dedicated to featuring use cases. These included entertainment, gaming, design, e-commerce, and remote presence. However, AR fitness was at the forefront, as we’ve come to expect from PhotonLens.
“We believe that the AR revolution will begin where it is needed most, in fitness and active gaming,” said CEO and Co-founder Patrick Liu.
The launch event also featured previews of apps made in collaboration with health and wellness celebrities Cathy Brown and Ant Middleton. Liu also mentioned the potential for “sports that haven’t been invented but will be the future of esports.”
“It Will Take the Entire AR Community”
“The AR revolution” was a theme throughout the presentation. President and Co-founder, Lisa Pan, similarly commented that too many people are waiting for an AR hardware offering from a giant like Apple or Facebook. Pan also pointed to the largely failed Google Glass as an example of why mass-adopted AR hardware may not come from one of the places we expect.
“At PhotonLens, we believe that the world is ready for AR now,” said Pan. “It will take the entire AR community rather than a single department within one big company to make this happen.”
Pan also addressed the future of industries like wellness “as some countries resume their post-pandemic world.”
What We Know About the Hardware
The launch event included a few extra gems regarding the hardware that we didn’t know before.
The headset features three cameras, with two side cameras enabling 6-degree-of-freedom tracking. We also now know that the center main camera is 5MP. We also now know that the Qualcomm XR2-enabled device has 128GB of storage and recognizes 26 distinct hand gestures.
The weight of the headset is still the 85g that had been cited in earlier releases, not counting the computing box, controllers, or central screen device. However, the field-of-view was given as 52 degrees – two more than previous releases had suggested and more competitive with other anticipated consumer AR glasses. The frames will also be prescription-compatible.
The dual controllers that can hook together or onto either end of the main screen device remain selling points of the headset. However, we now know that the controllers are anticipated to have three hours of battery life for typical use cases – twice the estimated battery life of the headset itself during “high-intensity gameplay.”
The event once again teased premium controllers, though we still have no specifications. However, there were illustrations of the center screen device being used as a projector – a feature which hadn’t been shown in earlier events and releases. It was also revealed that the compute unit will work with Wi-Fi and 5G data connections.
More on Software and Content
During the launch event, we also learned more about the software.
Developers can create compatible apps through an online Unity SDK but many Android apps will also work with Photons. As the content creator ecosystem grows, PhotonLens is focusing on a smaller number of highly refined apps that will ship with the headset.
We’ll See You in August!
Knowing more about Photons, we can be even more excited about the potential energy that PhotonLens will bring to the market. We look forward to following their Kickstarter campaign this summer and hopefully seeing shipments before Christmas.