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The Future of XR: From AR Android TV to Spatial Computing

In June, Apple released the Apple Vision Pro, which stirred up the entire XR industry.

After all, it is the technology giant with the highest market value in the world, and has successfully defined the next-generation computing platform many times in the past few decades. The release of Apple Vision Pro is almost a “coming” to the industry. Many people believe that this is Apple’s next iPhone, which will open the era of “spatial computing”.
The buzz in the AR industry doesn’t stop there.
Recently, Rokid and Google jointly launched the AR version of the portable Android TV, which is also the world’s first Google-certified AR version of the portable Android TV terminal. This is to bring the software and hardware experience of smart TVs to XR.


XR has suffered from “ecology” for a long time

For XR users, choosing AR glasses means choosing content. Unlike the era of smartphones, both the Android camp and the iOS camp already have a rich ecological market. The ecological construction of XR is still in the initial stage of self-reliance, and the prosperity of the ecology will also support the future of the XR industry tomorrow, or the arrival of the next iPhone moment.
Google has cooperated with Rokid, a startup company in the AR field in China, to launch the first AR version of portable Android TV hardware, Rokid Station. It can be connected to glasses products like a TV box connected to a TV, and output software and content images. This is the consistent development method of the Android ecosystem over the past ten years, which is more mature and more in line with reality.

In fact, AR Android TV itself is also a more down-to-earth product entry point. We can understand it as an XR version of the “TV box”, but things are not that simple.
In the past few years, in this wave of development of head display products, most manufacturers regard XR as a brand new and integrated product, and carry out design and development, just like smartphones.
This has many advantages. For example, users can experience head-mounted displays and glasses products with a more native perspective, and it also leaves more room for application development without overthinking compatibility issues.
But it must also be admitted that the implementation progress of XR ecology and software is still relatively slow. There is no expected exponential development like the iPhone App Store . The relatively “closed doors” development methods of various manufacturers have further exacerbated this problem and caused a split in the camp.
In this context, AR Android TV is oriented to a very specific scenario, “Treat XR glasses as a big TV”, uses the familiar interaction method of users, and the built-in content ecology to be compatible with the new hardware form of XR, providing a low-cost entry steps.


Take “screen” as the unit

Promoting XR popularization

Of course, for Rokid, and any company that enters the XR field, the ambition will not be limited to “replacing TV with glasses.” But a new product paradigm has always come out step by step from birth, development, to popularization.
Going back 20 years, TV was once the only choice for people to watch film and television content. But later, with the rise of the Internet content ecology, traditional cable TV gradually declined. Many young people have completely stopped watching cable TV. This is especially true in North America, and the industry even invented a new word to define this phenomenon: Call this generation of young people who never watch cable TV Cable Nevers.
In the past 20 years, the channels for people to watch movies and TV have shifted from cable TV to YouTube, Netflix, and TikTok. During the evolution of the content ecology, the hardware products people use have also undergone tremendous changes, and cable TV has gradually been replaced by computers, mobile phones, and smart TVs . In fact, the evolution of hardware, software, content, and services always influence each other and promote alternately.

For XR, change won’t happen overnight. Especially today, when people’s “information needs” have been greatly satisfied, it is difficult to see a revolution like the smartphone pioneering the mobile Internet.
XR is a very general visual concept, theoretically it has the ability to replace all display and computing devices. However, due to the extremely high technical challenges in the hardware, it is determined that it cannot evolve to a certain ultimate form overnight, but must be down-to-earth, with the “screen” as the unit, a little bit closer to the end of popularization.
Today, the entire XR industry believes that XR will eventually replace TVs, monitors, and even smartphones. Including Apple, it was also blunt when it released Apple Vision Pro, saying that Vision Pro can replace “three desktop displays.” But this process needs to be driven by the content ecology, and eventually XR devices will gradually replace traditional screens and become the next generation of “visual media.”
We can imagine a future where the next generation of young people may not just be Cable Nevers, but Screen Nevers. They live in a native XR world, where all UIs and screens naturally exist in the space, and there is no longer the concept of “screen” .
This is the ultimate goal that the entire XR industry wants to achieve. AR Android TV is the first step.


“Open Collaboration” Alliance

In the coming XR era, we also need to cooperate with hardware manufacturers. AR Android TV will most likely not be the end, but just the beginning. As a software platform, the starting point of the AR version of portable Android TV is very simple, but it still has the potential to evolve into a more general AR platform, which is the most important thing.
Founded in 2014, Rokid entered XR very early. More importantly, from the early days of its business, Rokid has aimed at a longer-term goal, hoping to promote the innovation of human-computer interaction.
In addition to the self-developed XR operating system and platform, Rokid has been advocating and participating in the establishment of open standards in the XR field and building infrastructure. In 2021, Rokid joined the Khronos Group, an international standard-setting organization, and supported the implementation of OpenXR, a key open standard in the XR field.
In October last year, Rokid released the domestic version of Rokid Station in China. Also based on the idea of ​​customization based on open cooperation, Rokid Station adopts a “split design”. For XR, separating display and computing devices can unlock more application possibilities.
In fact, Rokid also has its own glasses hardware. The AR glasses Rokid Max released this year has achieved about 50° FoV, 120Hz refresh rate, and 75g. It is already very competitive in the glasses track, but Rokid still believes that the vision of XR popularization in the future is better than the current one. market competition is more important.


One “mall”, two logics

When Apple released the Apple Vision Pro, many opinions in the industry believed that this was Apple, or Cook’s “iPhone moment.”
The original iPhone released in 2007, if we try to summarize it in the simplest terms, it is a piece of “glass that can touch and interact.” Now, 16 years later, smartphones have barely changed. The core usage of mobile phones of different brands and different systems has not changed.
But in the realm of XR. That’s not the case at all.
Today’s XR devices, in terms of display methods, have the VST (Video See Through) solution adopted by Meta and Apple to “shoot reality with a camera and then display it”. This type of product is essentially a VR headset; there are also manufacturers such as Rokid and Nreal. OST (Optical See Through) program. In terms of interaction, there are handles, remote controls, keyboards and mice, and bare hands. The interaction logic of different handles is often different.

If it is said that after the release of the iPhone, the smartphone has become a “track”, and there is basically only competition between different products. Then in the XR field, all possibilities are still open, and the needs met by different products may not overlap . It is like an open ocean, and it is possible to find treasures by sailing in different directions.
Including Rokid, no company in any industry will limit its vision to making a “TV on the eyes”. It is reported that Rokid is currently developing products for “spatial computing”, and will soon launch a lightweight product with spatial interaction capabilities.
At this moment, it is difficult for us to define what the “first-generation iPhone” in the XR field will be like. It is difficult to say who will seize this opportunity. Maybe it will take a little time before it is born. However, many companies in the industry hold the same view, that is, when Chinese companies gradually grasp the initiative of technology, grasp market demand, and go international, the next iPhone in the XR field is likely to be born in China, and this company may be Grow into a world technology giant comparable to Apple and Google.
Looking back, the history of XR in this field is actually much longer than that of smartphones. But because of its extremely pioneering concept and super high technical difficulty, until today, it has not really landed and has become popular. For any company in the XR space, the road ahead is full of unknowns.
What is certain is that only by keeping a vision of the future, an open mind, and a down-to-earth approach to the market, can we achieve better results. This is what the entire XR industry, including Rokid, is doing.

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