About a year and a half after unveiling the HoloLens-like ThinkReality A6, Lenovo is back with its take on business smartglasses, and the results look impressive. But again, looks can be deceiving.
On Sunday, a day ahead of the opening of the virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Lenovo took the packaging of the ThinkReality A3, a sleek pair of smartglasses designed for office and field functions in enterprises and expected to start midway through. 2021 to select markets worldwide for an undisclosed price.
ThinkReality A3 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform and features stereoscopic 1080p displays tucked into the frames (previously added on the outside as with Google Glass or Vuzix M400) that can project up to five virtual screens in the field of view of the user. The smartglasses feature an 8MP RGB center camera that can record 1
There will actually be two different versions of the ThinkReality A3, a PC edition and an industrial edition. In a press conference prior to CES, Kevin Beck, senior story technologist at Lenovo, explained that the underlying technology is essentially the same, via USB-C connection to a computer or smartphone, but each version is built around specific business applications.
As its name implies, the PC edition is for connecting to desktop computers and displaying some virtual screens in the user’s field of view, similar to Magic Leap’s Screens app. The PC edition also allows users to run Windows apps to get their work done.
Meanwhile, the Industrial Edition is intended to tether to Android mobile devices (or, as Lenovo would prefer, Motorola) mobile devices, allowing users to roam freely across factory floors and laboratories and access hands-free remote assistance and guided workflow apps via the smartglasses. The Industrial Edition also comes with a Motorola smartphone, a subscription to the ThinkReality software suite, and an industrial eye protection kit.
“The A3 is a next-generation augmented reality solution: light, powerful and versatile. The smart glasses are part of a comprehensive integrated digital solution from Lenovo that includes Motorola’s advanced AR device, ThinkReality software and mobile phones. Jon Pershke, Lenovo’s vice president of strategy and emerging company for the Intelligent Device Group, said in a statement. “Whether you work in virtual spaces or support remote assistance, the ThinkReality A3 improves employees’ ability to do more, wherever they are.”
The ThinkReality A3 appears to be the same smartglasses that leaked on social media last month. Nonetheless, the smartglasses are certainly a step up from the design department of the company’s earlier dive into augmented reality hardware. While smartglasses have a lower bar for aesthetics when it comes to business customers, the A3 can easily turn to a consumer device with just a few tweaks.
What is less certain is how they will perform. Our hands-on with the ThinkReality A6 left a lot to be desired. Since the ThinkReality A3 is designed to act more like a heads-up display than a spatial computing device, this change alone can help overcome the shortcomings of its predecessor.