RealWear has just announced the new Navigator 500 AR headset. The headset has some amazing stats in terms of camera and audio capabilities, and it’s definitely a smart headset, but “AR” might not mean what you think it means.
A New Family of Assisted Reality Products
The RealWear Navigator 500 “represents a new family of assisted reality products” built on the success of the company’s flagship HMT-1 line, according to a release shared with ARPost. In case you’re thrown by that, “assisted reality” is slightly different from “augmented reality” – the “AR” that most of us are used to hearing about.
Augmented reality revolves around digital information overlaid onto a view of the physical world. “Assisted reality” is more involved in recording and transmitting views of the physical world. This means a smaller, more durable display, but it also means that the technician using the headset is able to focus more on the environment as it naturally appears.
“The RealWear 500 delivers the next generation of work with a ‘reality-first, digital-second’ enterprise solution for remote collaboration, operational efficiency, and hybrid work,” company CEO and Chairman Andrew Chrostowski said in the release. “Assisted reality – more so than augmented or virtual reality – is designed specifically for the frontline worker.”
Meet the RealWear Navigator 500
The headset features a 48MP camera with enhanced zoom capabilities for maintaining 1080p at greater than four times magnification, even in low-light conditions, supported by auto-focus and image stabilization. Hands-free user interface focuses on noise-cancellation-assisted audio for hearing commands in high-volume environments.
All of this is powered by a hot-swappable battery and built-in Wi-Fi through an optional onboard 4G modem, with 5G soon to be available. The hardware itself is built around a modular design that can be manually optimized for different use cases.
Of course, hardware isn’t everything. The Navigator 500 is also compatible with over 200 optimized partner applications, including Microsoft Teams.
“Microsoft Teams for frontline workers has grown tremendously thanks to partners like RealWear, and we expect the RealWear Navigator 500 to take our success to new levels to accelerate hybrid work,” Microsoft 365 Frontline Worker and Industry VP of Product, Kristina Behr said in the release.
Remote Assistance and Modular XR Hardware
Remote assistance has been the “killer app” for frontline workers in AR since before the pandemic, but it’s definitely a feature of the technology that enterprise manufacturers have been stressing for the last two years. The really interesting element of this is the “modular design” touted by the Navigator 500.
This is a term that we’ve also recently seen around Lenovo ThinkReality’s A3 headset, among others. The idea is that the main body and computers constitute the main unit that other modifications, accessories, and specialized sensors and devices can be connected to, in order to create custom machines for specific use cases.
Perhaps one of the most standout themes in the announcement itself has to do with the emphasis on the physical world while we see many companies thinking in increasingly digital terms. It makes sense, given RealWear’s target audience, but still, one can’t help but chuckle at the way that the company phrases the sentiment.
“Nobody wants to be near hazardous equipment with their head stuck into the metaverse,” Chrostowski said in the release.
Who Needs the Metaverse?
Whether you’re long on the M-word or not, the Navigator 500 brings a lot to the table. While readers following this story from a more consumer perspective may want a little more augmentation and a little less reality, we can all appreciate RealWear for filling a specific wavelength in the XR spectrum.