Lenovo announces consumer AR glasses that can tether to iPhones

After pushing augmented reality (AR) glasses to businesses for years, Lenovo will finally sell AR glasses for consumers, the company announced today—and I briefly got to demo the lightweight Lenovo Glasses T1. With their Micro OLED displays and required tether to Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices, they bring some notable features to a space that has piqued industry-wide interest but is still likely far from becoming ubiquitous.

The early version of the T1 I had tried limited features; I was mostly only able to view a home page with basic menu options and a desktop with icons for apps, like web browsing. Although the glasses weren’t ready for me to watch a movie or hop around apps, I was impressed at how clear text and menu items were. This was in a sunny room with exceedingly tall windows. Even when sunlight facing, the few colors on display seemed vibrant and the text legible.

Lenovo specs the displays with 10,000:1 contrast and 1920×1080 pixels per eye. The glasses are also TÜV-certified for low blue light and flicker reduction, according to Lenovo. Much more time is needed to explore and challenge the Micro OLED displays before I pass final judgment. But the combination of smaller pixels and, from what I saw thus far, strong colors, should accommodate screens so close to the eyes. More broadly speaking, brightness can be a concern with OLED technologies, but the small demo I saw fared well in a sun-flushed room.

I used the Glasses T1 while it was connected to an Android smartphone via its USB-C cable, but it’s also supposed to work with PCs, macOS devices and, via an adapter sold separately, iPhones.

Sharon Harding

The UI seen on the glasses depends on the connected platform. During my demo, I controlled input via a five-way trackpad, home button, and menu button on the tethered smartphone’s touchscreen. I didn’t get much time with the glasses, but it was clear I’d need much more for movements to feel natural; I often had to look down at the phone to figure out where I was within the display.

The edges of the glasses’ arms use a flexible rubber-like material to accommodate different head shapes. Lenovo’s specs fit nicely on the shape of my face without weighing it down or having me play around with the nose clip options. However, the left arm, where the cable comes out, never sat perfectly around my ear. As they are, I wouldn’t want to move around aggressively while wearing these or wear them for many hours.

The rubber-like earpiece is malleable.
Enlarge / The rubber-like earpiece is malleable.

Sharon Harding

With no processor or battery, it’s easier for the glasses to stay trim. There are also no sensors or cameras like the Lenovo ThinkReality A3, announced last year, has. Other T1 features include a pair of speakers (one near each temple) and the ability to add prescription lenses.

Lenovo is building the T1 to be less powerful (and more affordable) than the A3, which supports up to five virtual monitors. But with less hardware, they should feel lighter on the face than the 0.3-pound A3 glasses. However, it remains to be seen how full or immersive an AR experience Lenovo will be able to deliver with the T1, which also includes a lower 60 Hz refresh rate and a 38-degree field of view.

Lenovo says its wearable display will appeal to gaming or streaming video content on the go. It also pointed to the head-mounted display being more private for viewing things like bank records, documents, or other sensitive information in public than a phone or laptop.

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