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Canon today announced their Mixed Reality headset, or MREAL, will be available for purchase starting March 1. The device, which has reportedly been in development for years, takes real-world objects and pairs them with virtual reality components to give the wearer a vision of what real life could hold.
Unlike Google Glass where images are displayed on a transparent lens, MREAL uses a series of cameras positioned in front of your eyes to capture the surround world in real time. This information is then fed to a PC where computer-generated graphics are seamlessly woven into the video feed. The end result is then projected on dual displays inside the head-mounted visor.
MREAL works with a series of markers to help build the virtual world. There are several different kinds of markers, including physical markers that look like QR codes, infrared sensors and even magnetic sensors. The cool thing about the system is that you can fully interact with what you see on the display - walk around and inspect a model of car from all different angles, check the tread pattern of the tires and even get inside and view the car's cabin layout.
As you might expect, the MREAL system isn't exactly designed for consumer use as the $125,000 starting price and $25,000 annual maintenance fee is highly prohibitive. Instead, Canon says the system could be extremely useful in a number of different fields like medical therapy and rehabilitation, product design and testing or even augmented reality consumer demonstrations.