Canon is set to release the MREAL S1 headset in late February for 4 million yen (~$38,400) that can synthesize and display CG images and place them into the wearer’s real-life location to create a mixed/augmented reality experience.
The MREAL S1 is a video see-through head-mounted display and works by using two forward-facing CMOS sensors to “see” the real world so that the headset can properly render virtual objects into the 3D space and project that combination towards the headset’s wearer.
In a promotional video for the product shown above, Canon points to an example use case where a person would wear the headset in order to interact with a concept vehicle and see it as it would be if it were actually in a space. The headset can take a 3D model or CG render and properly size it and place it in 3D space so that it can be seen from all angles.
While clearly objects can’t be felt, they can be interacted with. Other examples shown indicate that parts could be virtually placed but sit alongside objects that actually exist. This “mixed reality” interface would best work to better visualize new construction, fill out empty rooms to see furniture placement, or allow factories to look at how new production lines would be arranged and experience the workability and flow of those lines.
Theoretically, by being able to confirm full-scale CG objects with direct reference to reality, the MREAL S1 would be able to reduce costs by improving communication efficiency and reducing the number of trials needed to reach a finished design.
This is not the first time Canon has released a headset like the MREAL S1. In the video, Canon references the MD-10 and MD-20, which are previous generation headsets by Canon that are significantly larger and heavier.
The price, as mentioned, doesn’t come cheap. The approximately $38,400 headset is being marketed mainly to corporations and includes the unit, software, computer, and the cost of maintaining the whole device (both hardware and software).