Canon Mixed Reality System - a business rival for Google Glass

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, after Google Glass was finally released and excited pretty much hype among mobile application developers and users, I’d like to tell you about a technology that is able to become a considerable rival for Google Glass in the future. It is Canon's Mixed Reality (MR) System presented by Canon in February 2013. 

Canon Mixed Reality System looks like a pair of glasses, too. These glasses aren’t as elegant and minimalistic as Google Glass – speaking by heart, they look like a device from some old-school science-fiction movie. However, Canon MR System possesses a much more comprehensive functionality than just taking pictures or sending messages like Google Glass does. Canon MR System has another target auditorium, too, which don’t actually cares much about the device appearance.

So, what is Canon's Mixed Reality System?

A user having the device on his head can see elements of our real world combined with items of a virtual one. The glasses show him a video combining records of the real world and a virtual world generated using the software platform MP-100. 

Let’s consider the technical part more detailed. The glasses are made on the basis of a head display with embedded mini-screens for each eye, physical markers, infrared sensors and magnetic sensors. Total immersion into the virtual reality is achieved by collateral work of the sensors and an image processing technology. Together, they create a recorded real-world video as well as virtual-world computer graphic and display the obtained mixed result on the display. The device is also equipped with gyroscopes and uses QR-Codes for synchronization of objects of real and virtual worlds. Computer graphic files are overlaid with real images and displayed back through the headset then to create a three-dimensional depth. As a result, the user has 3D view mixed from real and virtual world objects. This innovative product allows him to pass round objects that don’t exist in reality, take them and view from all sides. The video below shows this process in details.

Actually, if you thought that Google Glass will cost a pretty penny, the price of Canon MR System is $125,000, plus additional $ 25,000 for the annual maintenance. But this high price of MR System is caused by its focus on the enterprise market. 

The point of this device for enterprises is the following. Before the implementation of an electronic 3D product prototype (e.g. a car) designers have the opportunity to see how their work will look like in real life and to quickly confirm the proposed design and/or detect potential problems. So, Canon MR System might be a very valuable tool for many manufacturers. Canon smart glasses can also be used in medicine e.g. for creating the necessary environment for patients recovering from a neurological injury, or for modeling a surgery. Further, the device can be of use in such areas as design, scientific researches, construction and industry. Canon MR System can help a company to implement necessary features and bring a product to market much faster. 

As a person interested in mobile application and custom software development, I wonder whether the Canon MR System might always run on its own software. Maybe, there could be a possibility for third-party software developers to create applications in order to increase the functionality of Canon glasses – e.g. for recognizing bar codes or for a better interaction with virtual objects. What do you think?

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