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Nov 2, 2022
Shreyas Sen

All-day Augmented Reality, now possible courtesy of Wi-R

In recent years, the augmented reality (AR) headset space has heated up, with almost every major tech company teasing a headset release soon.

Billions of dollars have been invested in recent years to build AR headsets that are suitable for everyday use, user-friendly, and powerful at the same time. Unfortunately, no company has yet been able to build the all-day productivity companion capable of real-time AI with always-on camera. Technical challenges such as thermal budget and battery drain severely limit capabilities. Reports say overheating is one of the key reasons Apple hasn’t announced their mixed reality headsets yet. Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, calls fitting a computer on the frame of AR glasses “one of the hardest technical challenges of the decade”. Ixana’s Wi-R chip solves this billion dollar problem.

Ixana’s reference AR headset is like a trained second pair of eyes connected to a wearable brain. The front-facing camera can see what you are seeing, analyze it and give you real-time feedback.

Why distributed computing?

Unfortunately, today’s AR headsets are far from being an all-day productivity companion. Thermal budget and battery capacity severely limit usability. AR headset makers have been forced to accept hardware limitations, choosing between a lightweight, all-day wearable form factor, all-day battery life, helpful functionality enabled by real-time machine learning inference or making the headset wire-free. It is challenging to even run real-time inference on the headset camera video all-day, constraining today’s smartglasses to just record and store camera video.

Enabling technology: Wi-R

Ixana aims to challenge those limitations through the development of 100 times more energy efficient silicon chip that is currently being integrated in their Augmented Reality (AR) headsets. Wi-R is a new non-radiative wireless technology with the performance and security of wires, but the convenience of wireless. Compared to Bluetooth, Wi-R offers 100X higher energy efficiency, 10X higher data rates, lower latency, and higher reliability with its interference robustness and low bit error rates. However, Wi-R is confined near the surface which leads to unique advantages in physical security, multi-node co-existence, touch detection, and communication.

How Wi-R enables all-day wearable AR headsets

With the game-changing Wi-R chip, Ixana is developing a reference headset with a total weight under 3oz despite boasting all-day battery life and real time machine learning inference from AR headset camera. Wi-R enables distributed computation using the smarpthone or a different device as the hub. This in turn leads to the posssibility of AR headsets without heavy duty computation that can last all-day on a small battery.

Ixana’s developer kits will be available after CES’23. We are already testing our headsets with enthusiasts and industrial customers. It’s exciting to get this incredible product into the hands of more people.

Looking forward to the world where everyone has a lightweight AR headset that they wear the entire day.

Augmented Reality
Distributed computing
Wearable Ixana

Shreyas Sen

Elmore Associate Professor of ECE & BME at Purdue, Founder & CTO of Ixana, MIT TR35, TEDx, GT 40U40
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