Oppo looks to put a stylish head-up display on your face
Back in 2012, Google announced that it was working on a project that placed all sorts of useful information right in front of a user's eye. Despite a number of iterations, Project Glass failed to connect with the public at large, and has since made inroads into the business world instead.
Now the folks at Chinese smartphone maker Oppo think that the time is right for a head-up display you wear on your head, launching the Oppo Air Glass smart monocle at its annual Inno Day convention.
Oppo's device features a tech-packed arm with a monocle display to the front, and is mounted to a simple frame and worn like a pair of ordinary spectacles – with the device's transparent display over one eye and nothing over the other.
The arm is home to Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100 mobile platform, a built-in battery, an integrated speaker and dual microphones, and comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to work with a smartphone or smartwatch running a companion mobile app.
There's a sleek touch bar on the outer surface for control, but the Air Glass also supports gestures such as nodding the head to display notifications and Oppo says that it's currently testing hand gesture control via the Oppo Watch 2.
In addition to such things as checking the weather or consulting a daily schedule, the setup is reported capable of translating speech from one language into text in another (with English and Mandarin Chinese currently supported but Korean and Japanese on the way), it can help cyclists or pedestrians get around town when used with a navigation app (the company is currently working with Chinese search giant Baidu to improve this experience), and folks who give presentations or business briefings will no doubt appreciate the teleprompter app.
Oppo delivers images in front of the wearer's eye using a micro-LED array and a projection unit designed from the ground up. Its Spark micro projector is reckoned to be about the size of a coffee bean, and incorporates a five lens projection system that's reported to deliver "bright and sharp content whether worn indoors or outdoors" to a diffractive optical waveguide display sandwiched between two layers of sapphire glass.
The monocle hosting the display rocks a curved shape based on the wing of a cicada (instead of the kind of hard-edged rectangle chosen by the likes of Google), and supports either 16-level or 256-level "grayscale" (the image is displayed in bright green) at up to 1,400 nits of brightness.
The whole thing tips the scales at just 30 g (1 oz) and comes with a basic frame in black or silver for mounting so that the display sits in front of the right eye.
Oppo plans to launch the Air Glass during Q1 2022 in mainland China, and there's no word at this time on whether it will be made available elsewhere. Are consumers now ready for "assisted reality" delivered through a goofy looking monocle display? Perhaps the brief video below will help you decide.