Samsung's C-Labs is the place the tech mammoth lets its hair down and shakes out all the crazy, futuristic ideas it used to stick in one product. And so far, it's working really well. Each year since 2014 we've seen at least a couple of very promising wearable and VR concepts, some of which have been developed into real products.
The first announcements for 2017 include a pair of AR smartglasses and three new VR applications, all of which Samsung is taking to Mobile World Congress 2017, the Barcelona show which is now mere days away.
Read this: Best VR and AR headsets
First, to the glasses. The project is called Monitorless and the dorky looking sunglasses, which house a CPU, projector, battery, Wi-Fi antenna and speaker between the two sides of the frames, are the closest thing we've seen to Google Glass in a while.
Rather than gunning for spatially aware, interactive mixed reality like Microsoft and Magic Leap, Monitorless seems to be focused on a simple AR experience of viewing apps, games and movies from your phone or PC on the glasses' optical lenses. Electro chromic glass means you can switch to VR and block out the room if you want to.
Its main raison d'etre is that Samsung admits there still isn't enough AR and VR content so this way you can read and watch whatever you like as 2D floating windows in your vision. Kind of like one of those home theatre goggles but for augmented reality.
If the team can get this on sale for an affordable price, they might sell a few though dedicated AR glasses makers are already leaps ahead in terms of form factors.
A trio of new VR apps
Also heading to MWC from C-Labs are three VR apps. There's a Street View VR rival, traVRer, which lets the user visit tourist spots around the world. A VR interior design app called VuildUs lets you see what furniture will look like once you've scanned it with a 360 depth sensing camera. One for erstwhile The Sims fans.
The most interesting of the bunch, though, is Relumino. This is another VR app for the Gear VR headset, which works to enhance images and text for partially sighted and near blind people. It does this by repositioning the images to avoid blind spots and correcting things that look distorted for those with metamorphopsia using an Amlser grid chart.
This C-Labs visual aid app is yet another example of tech companies looking to use both VR and AR - see also the recent eSight3 glasses - to help people who are partially sighted. Nice work.
We'll be trying out the Monitorless glasses and all the new virtual reality apps on the MWC showfloor from Sunday 26 February so stick around for our first impressions.
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