Next month, Canon will start selling a weird mixed reality system that blends real and virtual objects in front of your eyes. Like Google Glasses, it sounds like our science-fiction dreams come true. Sort of. From what we can see in this video, wearing the new goggles makes the world a painful, disorienting place. It sort of dashes our hopes for a slick augmented reality future.
Canon Mixed Reality falls somewhere between Google's augmented reality concept and the crazy visions of virtual reality gaming from the early 1980s. Stereo cameras capture an image of what's in front of you, and virtual are overlaid on displays in the goggles. The system uses motion capture and gyro sensors to make the virtual look as real as possible. In the video you can see the system produces a great illusion and responds quickly to input from the person wearing the glasses. Canon says that Mixed Reality is intended primarily for product design. Seeing virtual prototypes at their actual size in a real-world context could reduce the number of physical prototypes that need to be made. Makes sense.
Both Canon and the sources in the DigInfo piece are very clear that this product isn't intended for regular consumers. And it's clear why. You practically need a chaperone while you're wearing these things so you don't accidentally knock someone out while you're waving your arms around like a drugged fool. It just goes to show you that some of our dreams for truly immersive augmented reality — i.e. Terminator-vision — might actually be impossible because it will obstruct too much of our vision to be safe. Oh well, we can always dream! [Canon and DigInfo via Engadget]