Canon Announces MREAL S1, a Portable Enterprise AR Headset for Mobile Workstations – Road to VR

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Canon announced a new entry into its AR headset hardware category called MREAL S1. The company’s latest enterprise-focused headset provides passthrough AR and can be strapped to both a head mount for hands-free viewing, or a housing meant for handheld interactions.

Unlike the MREAL Display MD-20, which was unveiled earlier this year, you might describe MREAL S1 as technically a VR headset with passthrough AR, which is achieved by the inclusion of stereoscopic camera sensors on the front of the device and VR displays, providing a ‘mixed reality’ view to the user. The headset also includes two additional optical sensors for positional tracking.

Canon Japan hasn’t released specs, prices or availability yet, however the company says on its Japan-facing site “the smallest and lightest video see-through MR device in the history of MREAL.”

MREAL S1 requires a PC tether to function (ie. not a standalone headset), however the company says its been created to work with mobile workstations, and is both cheaper and more portable than its predecessors, the MD-20 and 2016-era MD-10. Of course, some degree of that portability is owed by the headset’s notable lack of any sort of light-blocking blinders, although that’s been a design choice the company has made with all of their MREAL headsets to date.

As you’d imagine with any enterprise-focused AR headset, the head-mount version of MREAL S1 is designed for work with industrial applications, which might require two hands such as CAD software. The handheld style however was created for easier use at exhibitions.

Both MD-20 and MD-10 include this level of convertibility, however MREAL S1 is substantially smaller in size, slimming down to about the size of a smartphone. Its handheld configuration is also much less ungainly, as Canon has done away with the giant handles seen in previous models.

Like its previous AR headsets, MREAL S1 is likely to be a Japan-only device for companies there looking to partner with the Canon.

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