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Asus is building its own, affordable augmented reality device

Competition is usually a good thing for consumers. While console makers might wall off some games behind exclusive contracts, for the most part if there are competing hardware standards, we see a better deal when it comes to our technology purchases. So as excited as we are for Microsoft’s HoloLens , it’s nice to see another company stepping into the fray to alter our reality.

That company is no slouch either, as Asus has been around the block for many, many years, producing some of the world’s most respected motherboards, tablets, graphics cards and now, it seems, augmented reality headsets.

While details are a little thin at the moment, Asus CEO Jerry Shen said in a chat with Cnet, that he expected the headset to be available for consumers at some point in 2016 and that he sees augmented reality as “very important for people’s lives.”

Related: Hands on with Microsoft’s HoloLens

Indeed, while virtual reality has taken a front-seat in the reality altering technological head space of gamers and general consumers, Microsoft drew a lot of eyes when it debuted its HoloLens technology. Its ability to fuse the real world with the digital one has huge potential, offering instructional videos that overlay with real world tasks, VOIP chats untethered by devices and perhaps more importantly, no need to buy a large-screen TV ever again.

ASUS chairman Jonney Shih also said in the chat that his company had been in talks with Microsoft last year about producing a lower cost version of the HoloLens – which is is thought likely to debut at around $3,000 – but was turned down. It seems likely that the AR headset ASUS is touting now will be very similar to the original budget design it discussed with Microsoft.

While this is no doubt a good move, as it will allow ASUS to target a different sector of the market to Microsoft, our own Matt Smith’s impressions of the Hololens headset weren’t all positive. He praised the technology itself, and its ease of use, but said that there were big improvements that still needed to be made to the field of view and the image quality.

We worry that any lower cost alternative may struggle even more so in those key areas.