Canon MD-20: Canon Reveals the AR Successor to the MREAL MD-20
The Japanese camera giant Canon has been selling an $82,000 enterprise augmented reality (AR) headset in the Japanese market since 2016 known as the MREAL MD-10.
The company has today announced that it is introducing a sequel to the high-priced enterprise-grade MD-10 mixed reality headset which will feature even higher-fidelity augmented reality visuals. The new device is known as MREAL Display MD-20 and has two displays with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. According to Canon, the new mixed reality headset will have a resolution that will be high enough to “fuse the real world with 3D CG in real time”. The device will be targeting both business as well as automakers.
The form factor of the Canon MD-20 looks bulkier than than a typical pair of mixed reality glasses. The Mreal Display model features twin screens that are contained in a black plastic housing. This is held in front of the user’s face using a large padded head ring.
The mixed reality headset has an odd design but one that has enabled Canon to incorporate the very high 2,560 x 1,600 pixel displays per eye. In spite of the impressive display specs, its field of view is still comparatively modest at just 70 degrees horizontally and 40 degrees vertically. It has a refresh rate of only 60 frames per second which is below the industry standard. The Canon screens cover 99% of the sRGB colors and leverage graphics from a tethered powerful PC.
The front-facing camera of the headset features a “uniquely developed global shutter” that makes use of three CMOS sensors that are integrated in the front part of the headset. These match the line of sight of the wearer and deliver a high-precision composting of both the real and computer-generated imagery.
The CMOS sensors will capture the physical environment in a seamless and natural way and stream this to the displays without any distortion. With this, the real and digital objects will be indistinguishable from one another. The MD-20 should also scan the real-world environment in 3D and be able to place the virtual objects correctly in perspective in the real world.
According to Canon, the MD-20 will generate real-time spatial maps that will make for the wearer’s field of view and current location, enabling digital objects to seamlessly integrate with the real objects a seen in the image below where a 3D CG object (of a car) is seamlessly fused with the real one by using very high fidelity and wide FOV displays.
There are optional external markers as well as sensors which can be used in providing 3D positioning data without having to leverage on-device mapping.
Small App Ecosystem
The MD-20 provides much more than its use in the visualization of photorealistic 3D objects. The mixed reality headset can also display virtual touch menu interfaces used for controls as well as for access to multiple applications. Canon says over 10 applications, including third-party apps. The new Canon headset is also compatible with the Mreal software that was built for the predecessor model, the MD-10, which had a 1,920×1,200 resolution, a narrower 60-degree horizontal field of view, a 54Hz frame rate as well as a lower color gamut.
The new Canon MD-20 is also much lighter and weighs just 60% of its predecessor’s weight even in the prototype form. It weighs 640 grams compared to 1,040 for its predecessor. Canon is hoping that this weight can be cut down even further for the general release of the headset.
Predecessor Was Outrageously Expensive
Canon is yet to provide any timeline for the release of the mixed reality headset. The company has also not divulged the pricing information. The old model, the MD-10, cost a whopping $82,260 or 9 million Yen so the new model is also likely to carry a sky-high price tag.
However, there is currently stiffer competition in the enterprise augmented reality space and that is likely to have a bearing on the future pricing for the MD-20 model. Some of the players such as Varjo are already selling enterprise-grade mixed reality headsets in the $10,000 range which combine both virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities for business uses.
The MD-20 will be showcased during the 28th 3D and Virtual Reality Exhibition which takes place at the Makuhari Messe in Japan from February 26 to 28.