Head-mounted screens, better known as smart glasses, have come a long way. Point case: Lenovo ThinkReality A3 glasses.
Lenovo Tech World 2021 this week featured one of the most interesting product announcements in recent memory – Lenovo ThinkRealty A3 smart glasses. Although they met at the CES earlier this year, this was their most formal introductory party.
Lenovo smart glasses are available in parts of North America, Europe and Asia, according to the company, with ThinkReality A3 PC Edition for $ 1,499. The industrial edition, which is sold to companies, is available in a variety of packages, including A3 glasses. Prices for the industrial edition are available here.
What does it mean to wear smart glasses?
There are three limiting factors in the transformation of laptops and much smaller than current laptops: keyboard, mouse and screen. All set the smallest reasonable size for a laptop at about 12 inches diagonally. Sure, you can make them smaller, but the market hasn’t really gotten smaller laptops. (HP had a very small designer line, which looked good but didn’t sell well, and Sony, before it hit the market, tried several that failed to gain traction either.)
It is interesting to note that the first time I tried on smart glasses was at the turn of the century; They came from Sony, cost $ 21,000, and were designed for use by surgeons in the operating room. I took the glasses to a LAN party (where people connect their computers to play eSports) and they were hugely successful because they worked just as well as a monitor and were much easier to transport. But the price was too high for the players, plus the hands could not be seen, which makes it easier to confuse the placement of fingers on the keyboard.
While the ThinkRealty A3 smart glasses, which Lenovo developed in partnership with RealWear, are designed to enhance remote collaboration, their ability to connect to a smartphone makes it an ideal testing platform for Microsoft Windows 365 on a mobile device. You can extend the view to something that might exceed your desktop monitor settings (because they can display up to five virtual monitors).
Moving on to portability
ThinkReality Smart Gases weigh three-tenths of a pound, use the Qualcomm XR-1 Smart Viewer and have a resolution of 1080p per eye; Compared to most laptops, they do not reach the 4K resolution that would be optimal. They also have built-in speakers and three noise-canceling microphones, making them ideal for those who want to interface with voice or attend a Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Cisco Webex remote conference.
As I discovered during my Sony test, these glasses prevent others from seeing what is on your screen and, especially on a plane, can be useful for both work and entertainment. You can look down while using them to see your hands if you are using a laptop. However, you could change that laptop with just a keyboard and a trackpad if you want or use your smartphone (currently works with the Motorola G100 smartphone) with a keyboard and portable mouse.
These glasses offer an interesting set of software functions. These include voice recognition so that they «know» that you are; have object and image recognition (using a built-in 8MP camera) so they can be informative of what you see in the context of your environment; use head and gaze tracking to determine where you are looking; and include HDCP so you can watch movies legally. They even have a barcode reader, so you can use them for inventory or authentication and accept prescription lenses so you can customize them for your vision.
The next evolution of the computer?
I think we are slowly but surely making progress in replacing computers, at least laptops, with something much smaller and more portable. For them to be successful, we need decent displays and products like Windows 365 running in the cloud. Although I would like to see resolutions higher than at least 2K, 1080p is a decent start for this boot offer, especially for those who really need a more portable option. These could be especially useful for video conferencing on the go.
Right now, I see these ThinkReality A3 smart glasses as a bridge to our computing future, one that may not have a PC at all, replacing current hardware with a smartphone tied to a cloud service.