After the release of Vision Pro by Apple, domestic manufacturers in China are competing to showcase their accumulated strength. Just recently, AR company Rokid released a consumer-grade personal spatial computing platform called Rokid AR Studio.
Rokid’s products adopt a modular design, and the newly launched Rokid AR Studio continues with this concept. This consumer-grade AR product focuses on Optical See Through (OST) technology, which includes the AR spatial computing glasses Rokid Max Pro priced at $685, as well as the AR spatial computing host Rokid Station Pro priced at $548. The total cost is nearly $1234.
According to the official introduction, in terms of hardware design, the Rokid Max Pro is very lightweight, weighing only 76g. In addition, the Station Pro is equipped with Rokid’s self-developed fully spatialized AR operating system YodaOS-Master. Unlike dual-camera and multi-camera solutions in the industry, the Station Pro is paired with only one camera on the Rokid Max Pro, which enables SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), micro-gesture interaction, first-person perspective sharing, visual positioning VPS capability, etc.
While ensuring computational power, the main reason for achieving portability is that Rokid Station Pro, a spatial computing host, adopts the first-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ platform. Compared to the Snapdragon XR2 platform, the new platform can provide a 30% improvement in heat dissipation performance and a 50% increase in battery life.
In terms of interaction, this product does not rely on controllers or remote controls. Instead, it achieves real-time control through the use of eyes, gestures, and voice.
As a spatial computing product, Rokid has chosen the OST optical perspective solution path. It overlays computer-generated virtual images onto the user’s real field of vision through transparent lenses. Simultaneously, with camera positioning and chip calculation, it enables interaction between virtual objects and reality.
In contrast, in the VST (Video See Through) route adopted by Apple, the presentation form of the spatial computing platform is a helmet-shaped product that uses computer vision and image processing algorithms to blend virtual elements with real scenes.
Both routes have distinct characteristics. The VST route excels in areas such as occlusion, registration information, latency, and brightness matching control. On the other hand, the OST route stands out in terms of brightness, resolution, latency, and focus field. It also achieves a thinner, lighter, and more energy-efficient design.
In fact, as a company perceived by the outside world as “good at financing”, Rokid, established in 2014, had a long period of silence before launching consumer-grade products. Despite positioning itself as a “human-machine interaction” company, most of its collaboration cases were focused on B-end applications.
This is related to Rokid’s overall development strategy.
Rokid founder and CEO, Mingming Zhu, stated that Rokid has always followed the principle of “take B to bring C”, which means refining new technologies in the B-end and using customers with specific problems as practitioners of technological products. Then, these technologies are introduced to the C-end. The single-camera is one example of this approach. Additionally, there is also a focus on “lightweight first”, starting with lightweight scenarios such as watching movies and entertainment, prioritizing comfort when wearing devices, and then incorporating features like spatial positioning into the products.
But the AR market is still in a very early stage, even top manufacturers like Rokid are waiting for progress in the industry chain and ecosystem. According to data from global market research firm Counterpoint, XR device shipments declined by 33% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, experiencing an overall downturn.
Rokid’s ecological leader, Cai Guoxiang, stated in an interview with Jiemian News that the industry’s dilemma is partly due to constraints in the development of software and hardware technologies, resulting in insufficient user experience and higher costs. On the other hand, the AR market does not yet have a large enough user base, and many developers of applications and content have not invested in forming a positive cycle.
Solving these challenges requires more involvement from practitioners, which partially explains Zhu Mingming’s consideration of high pricing – losing money and squeezing the gross profit of each link is not conducive to industry development. Compared to mainstream products in the domestic market, such as Raybird Innovation and Nreal’s AR glasses, their new product prices are all within $ 315, while Impact’s AR glasses kit is priced at $ 548.
In the view of Zhu Mingming, the next two years will be a crucial turning point for the industry. This may also be the reason why Rokid is starting to focus on C-end products and ecological investment. In early August, Rokid released Rokid Station (Global Edition), which is the first AR version of a portable Android TV™ device certified by Google.
The boost brought to the industry by Apple’s product release is one aspect, and some of the data accumulated by Rokid itself provides evidence for its viewpoint: In terms of shipments, Rokid’s quantity in the first half of this year increased by 150% compared to the previous year, reaching approximately 150,000 to 200,000 units. In addition, Zhong Mingming pays more attention to indicators such as user activity, usage duration, repurchase rate, and recommendation rate. Currently, the number of users served by Rokid AR glasses has exceeded 1 million with over 30,000 daily active users and over 40% monthly active users. The average daily usage duration per user exceeds 1 hour and the application/content payment rate reaches 20%.
According to the information, Rokid AR Studio products will be officially launched in two to three months. By then, his aforementioned judgment will also receive further validation.