During its CES 2020 livestream, Samsung casually showed off AR glasses- without formally declaring it to be an upcoming product or even acknowledging anything remarkable about showing such a device.
The segment was downright bizarre. Rather than actually being an announcement of AR glasses, it was a demo of a system called Gait Enhancing & Motivating System (GEMS), an exercise analytics and training platform.
The company representative wore an exoskeleton around their legs and body. This contains sensors which report health and activity data while exercising.
And then- without warning- “I’ll put on my AR glasses”. The hardware resembles Nreal Lite in form factor, relatively slim but not quite regular glasses. Somewhere between thick sunglasses and ski goggles. The employee uses hand gestures to select their exercise routine and a virtual instructor appears in front of them.
If this is a product, the name was not shown, no specs were given, no details were provided, and it wasn’t mentioned whether it was standalone or powered by a smartphone. However, the employee did connect a cable from their chest to the glasses before starting, suggesting an external source of compute and power.
No tech company has yet launched compelling consumer AR glasses. The technology is very early in its development. Reports indicate that Apple and Facebook are investing billions researching AR and intend to launch lightweight glasses some time in the next 3-5 years.
But Samsung might just be beating them to market with an earlier, less mature product. Whether the tech giant will be capable of delivering an experience which people want to actually use beyond as a tech demo is yet to be seen, but we’ll keep a close eye on Samsung to find out what exactly they’ve just teased.