Because we’re spoiled and don’t appreciate amazing technology unless it’s immediately convenient, some tech pundits are dismissing VR in favor of AR, but the fact is that we’re still years away from easy to use AR glasses. For now, mainstream AR is limited to your smartphone, like most other apps. 

However, a team at Microsoft Research is looking to speed up the progress on wearable AR devices and have introduced a prototype as proof. 

Before Snap can turn its Spectacles wearable camera into a vehicle for its augmented reality app filters, Microsoft’s team presented a pair of glasses on Friday that use near-eye displays to produce holograms to the wearer. 

The glasses have an 80-degree field of view and the ability to correct for a person’s astigmatism, allowing virtual objects to be viewed through the AR glasses without additional corrective lenses.

And while the rough prototype is exciting as something to look forward to, the fact that the glasses are monoscopic and the electronics driving the AR experience are external means this is just a step forward for the technology and not a hint at any forthcoming product. 

“In future work, we plan to integrate all these capabilities into a single hardware device while expanding the exit pupil to create a practical stereo display,” the team writes in the research paper detailing the work around the prototype. “In this way, we hope to become one step closer to truly mobile near-eye displays that match the range of capabilities of human vision.

Image: microsoft research

Microsoft is already dedicated to AR with the HoloLens, but with talk of AR eyeglasses being fielded by the likes of Facebook and even Apple (via rumors) the pressure is mounting for someone to be the first to present wearable AR that doesn’t look as off-putting as Google Glass. 

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