This isn't the first we've heard of Canon's Mixed Reality system -- not by a long shot. The company's trotted its augmented reality headset out a few times before. The camera maker did, however, take the opportunity to shed some light on its US plans for the head-mounted display yesterday at an event held in Manhattan's Classic Car Club. Surrounded by the classy convertibles, the company also unveiled the more streamlined (and vaguely Cypress Hill-esque) MREAL name. As before, the headset is decidedly industry-facing, targeting product prototypers with an augmented reality system that lets designers interact with computer-generated versions of their creations before actually willing them into existence.
The MREAL System for Mixed Reality (that's the full name -- or, if you want to drill down even further: the headset is the HM-A1 and the software platform is MP-100) generates video of one's surroundings using a pair of cameras positioned in front of the wearer's eyes, which is combined with computer-generated graphics. The result is displayed on a pair of small monitors "to create high-impact, three-dimensional images." Amongst the potential target audiences for the product are automotive designers, manufacturers, university researchers and museum exhibit curators. Canon's also planning to open up its SDK to developers, so applications will likely only increase.
As per Canon's press release, the MREAL system is set for a March 1st release, priced on a sliding scale, depending on which configuration you opt into -- though the company tossed out the steep $125,000 price point, along with $25,000 in annual maintenance. The aforementioned press release can be found after the break -- or better yet, have a look at our hands-on with the device right now.
Canon MREAL Mixed Reality headset hitting US March 1st for $125,000See all photos
CANON U.S.A. INTRODUCES THE NEW CANON MREAL SYSTEM FOR MIXED REALITY
Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the introduction of its Canon MREAL System for Mixed Reality (MR), a new imaging solution that simultaneously merges virtual objects with the real world, at full scale and in three dimensions. By combining the rich, visual information of the real world and the flexibility offered by computer-generated images, MR offers an imaging experience that is a step ahead of existing virtual reality technology, which currently only produces computer-generated environments. The MREAL System and its associated professional services inclusive of MR implementation, integration to customer systems, and custom development can benefit companies in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, automotive, construction, aerospace, medical, defense, and entertainment, to name a few.
"In today's competitive markets, companies are constantly looking for solutions that can help them introduce new products to market in a timely and efficient fashion. The new Canon MREAL System for Mixed Reality allows decision-makers to evaluate a product's design and operability like never before," said Sam Yoshida, vice president and general manager, Marketing, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A. "Canon has a very strong commitment to the augmented reality space, and by leveraging our strong heritage and leadership in optics, we intend to deliver solutions based upon Mixed Reality for use in industries including manufacturing, aerospace and entertainment."
Key benefits of the MREAL System are:
Productivity: Effective product lifecycle management places an emphasis on maximizing productivity to help reduce time to market, optimize designs, improve product quality, and save time, cost and resources. The MREAL System enables customers to develop digital prototypes, identify potential design concerns to reduce prototype iterations, incorporate required characteristics more quickly and get products to market sooner.
Interaction: The MREAL System allows customers to make the leap from screen to seen. With this new system, you can experience, examine, modify, manipulate, discuss, analyze, or present designs with a level of realism that allows complicated ideas and plans to come to fruition quickly and efficiently.
Attention to Detail: The MREAL System brings users to a 3D world where they can interact with virtually any given scene, landscape, environment or object. Designers can closely examine how components manufactured at different locations are expected to come together, or see how light will reflect off the interior trim of a car. Users can view intricate details of the 3D image from almost any angle.
Feedback: When the audience is immersed in the MR experience, users gain tremendous insight. Whether collaborating on ideas, discussing new product designs, securing customer input, generating investor interest, winning management buy-in, or just entertaining an audience, MR brings many levels of value to all participants.
The Canon MREAL System for Mixed Reality – which consists of a head-mounted display (HMD) HM-A1 and the MR Platform Software MP-100, creates the illusion that computer-generated visuals exist within the real world by deploying the following Canon technologies:
Head-Mounted Display (HMD)
Two video cameras inside the head-mounted display (HMD), located in front of each eye, capture video from the real world, which is then processed and sent to a computer. Using state-of-the-art Canon image processing and directional-sensor data, the computer-generated graphics and the real world are combined with high precision and are displayed on the small monitors located inside the head-mounted display (HMD).
An advanced optical system enlarges the video displayed on the small monitors to create high-impact, three-dimensional images. The innovative and patented free-form prism features a unique three-sided configuration that produces clear, solid-looking images with low distortion, reducing the impact of optical aberrations, even in peripheral areas, and further enhances the realism of the experience.
The MR Platform is designed to enhance a company's existing design workflow. The software integrates with leading design applications including Siemens PLM Software's NX™ software, a leading integrated solution for computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE), and the 3D visualization software RTT DeltaGen, which renders mixed reality images through the Canon head-mounted display, in lifelike realism.
Through Canon's Developer Support program, Canon also offers a MR Platform Software Development Kit. The MR SDK enables users to create software applications capable of leveraging Canon's MREAL System. The MR Platform SDK provides an ideal way to tightly integrate existing CAD and Graphic Design software with the Canon MREAL System.
"Canon's MR Platform SDK has proven to be an effective way of tightly integrating RTT's DeltaGen software with MREAL Product, said Hillary Forsythe, marketing director, RTT USA Inc. "The combination of RTT DeltaGen and Canon's MREAL Product provides an ideal solution to customers focused on lessening overall product development time, driving rapid prototyping and shortening go-to-market cycles."
A multitude of industries can leverage this enhanced rendering technology throughout the product lifecycle management (PLM) process to help streamline design processes, which can help get products to market quicker and can ultimately reduce costs. Automotive and manufacturing companies can utilize this solution at all stages of product development and a wide array of applications, including, but not limited to, digital prototyping, service training, plant design and factory layout. The Canon MREAL System has the capacity to expand virtually any existing design application in all sectors, including university research, entertainment and museum exhibits.
The Canon MREAL System for Mixed Reality, along with the services required to integrate into existing customer environments and applications, will be available immediately. Pricing will vary depending on system configurations and in accordance with usage requirements. More information on the Canon MEAL System for Mixed Reality can be found at www.usa.canon.com/mixedreality .