Mixed reality glasses on Kickstarter promise new possibilities and more data protection

Previous augmented reality glasses with transparent lenses often have display problems in bright sunlight – and only a small field of vision, so that objects are only faded into the real world in a narrow rectangle. The mixed reality headset Lynx R-1 should not suffer from these disadvantages – and even serve as an affordable, independent VR system that, unlike Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2, should not evaluate any advertising data.

The egg-laying woolly milk pig was developed by a small start-up company from Paris: It should therefore serve as independent AR glasses and VR glasses and also make novel mixed forms possible. In addition to the apps that run directly on the Snapdragon XR2 (is also built into the Quest 2), the device can also stream VR games from the PC. In a first presentation this only worked to a limited extent via a USB cable – but later it will also be possible wirelessly via a router, similar to the Quest.

Founder and CEO Stan Larroque announced the prices for the Kickstarter campaign in September in a YouTube stream yesterday. $ 499 is due for the black standard edition, $ 699 for the limited special edition with a transparent case and EUR 899 for the professional edition for companies. An exact date for the campaign start or delivery has not yet been set. The first 100 units produced at the end of 2021 should be sent to Kickstarter supporters at least in February 2022.

The project has already caused quite a stir among technology enthusiasts in recent months, as the designers have opted for an idiosyncratic AR approach that is currently less expensive to implement.

The trick here is that a screen with special lenses hangs right in front of the user’s eyes. Cameras on the front capture the real world, which is displayed on the back screen with added computer graphics. When walking through an office, for example, the illusion arises that you are not only walking through space, but also through some planets that are floating around in it. A demo that is vaguely reminiscent of Pokmon GO also already exists: In it, a virtual lynx appears to be strolling through the real room.

Screenshot – Lynx R-1 (Android, VirtualReality)

Yesterday’s presentation was even more impressive, in which the player stepped through a virtual door in the company’s empty courtyard (see below, from 17:20 onwards). Suddenly he was practically on a computer graphics level, but could still see the real world and his colleagues on the other side of the door – and finally walk back to them.

With such possibilities, creative game designers should probably already have tons of ideas floating around in their heads: How about an adventure game in which one alternates between the real and the virtual world during the investigation? Or a shooter in which the player plays a cat and mouse game with virtual enemies around a portal?

Let’s get back to the hardware: As soon as you put blinders all around the device, it suddenly looks like a virtual reality headset and can be used for classic VR games even without annoying incident light. Ports from the Quest, for example, should be most easily feasible with the help of Open XR support, according to Larroque.

Unfortunately, controllers are not included in the box when the Kickstarter versions are delivered. This decision, of course, could prove to be a stumbling block to the amount of ported games. Instead, the plan is to work with accessory partners to bring out cheap controllers with thumbsticks as an option – according to the CEO in the stream. Incidentally, the Lynx R-1 or its software is operated by hand tracking – in line with the original plans for a sale to companies.

Screenshot - Lynx R-1 (Android, VirtualReality)

Screenshot – Lynx R-1 (Android, VirtualReality)

Larroque presents specially shaped lenses from a Spanish partner company as advantages: This design is necessary due to the small distance to the eyes and significantly less susceptible to light streaks than today’s hybrid Fresnel lenses in the VR area. The battery on the back should not only last around three to four hours, but also ensure ideal weight shifting with a center of gravity in the middle of the head. In addition, the company is deliberately positioning itself as a European alternative to large corporations from Silicon Valley and China.

This also means that you offer potential customers the device itself as a product, instead of relying on income from the advertising business like Facebook. One consequence of this is, of course, that the product cannot be sold at a loss like some competitors. However, the price of the standard variant was chosen to be as low as possible in order to enable end customers to make a purchase.

A few months ago, a search for investors failed, by the way, because they would have called for overly optimistic promises of success and threatened the company’s independence. This was followed by a change of strategy with a lower entry price for end consumers and Kickstarter plans.