Every day of the CES 2024 Las Vegas show, arguably one of the biggest tech events in the world, appears to have something groundbreaking to offer, and the announcement of the Sony XR headset has been turning heads this time around. After we heard confirmation of the Apple Vision Pro AR headset, it appeared it would be the top technological advancement we would see in augmented reality this year, but Sony has now seemingly stolen the thunder. While both products appear to target different audiences and may not necessarily pose a threat to each other, it is still exciting to witness the new era of technology.

While only one of them—the Apple AR headset—is set to launch soon, both devices present us with the versatility that we’re yet to fully explore in the realm of mixed reality.

The Sony XR Headset Is on Its Way to Empower 3D Content Creators

Presenting the Sony XR headset.

Introducing The Sony XR Headset

The newly announced XR headset is a collaboration between Sony and Siemens, a team-up between two companies that have a long history of bolstering the tech hardware industry with their innovation. The device features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 Platform and is designed to present three-dimensional visuals that a user can interact with, allowing significant control to maneuver and interact with the projected image. The immersive spatial content creation system is designed to “facilitate the use of 3D CG in various creative fields.”

Some have compared the Sony XR headset design to the Lynx R1, and the resemblance does give us pause. We’re going to wait to see how Sony responds to the claim. 

Sony-Siemens XR Headset Specs

Only limited details have been released in terms of the device specs and features so far. The head-mounted display device will feature 1.3-type OLED Microdisplays, along with six cameras and small, lightweight sensors in total. Its Mobile motion capture system or “mocopi” will help enable full-body motion tracking, paired with the on-chip AI and Sony’s proprietary technology to simplify realistic 3D rendering. The 4K resolution will support a wide color gamut covering 96 percent of DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiatives–Protocol 3). The device is also capable of split rendering, which will allow the extensive load of the rendering to be handled by both the device as well as a computer, creating a much more stable and efficient experience.

Another interesting component of the Sony XR headset, one that will support its ease of use, is the flip-up mechanism that will allow those using the device to seamlessly transition between the 3D content they are interacting with to return to their physical space without having to take the device off. Considering that Sony is envisioning the use of the device in a professional capacity, users might wear the device for extended periods so comfort and accessibility will be a priority. 

Controller Components Paired With the Sony XR Headset

Controller Components Paired With the Sony XR Headset

As noteworthy as the Sony XR head-mounted display is, it doesn’t work alone to assist in the creative space. The system includes a ring controller that will allow users to use their hands to manipulate the image they see in the virtual space. Another pointing controller will be included with the headset, that can assist with precision. Using the pointing controller in the dominant hand while wearing the ring controller on the other, users will be able to use these devices in tandem to interact with the 3D visual objects and refine them as they go.

Controller Components Paired With the Sony XR Headset

The controller “enables stable and accurate pointing in virtual spaces, with optimized shape and button layouts for efficient and precise operation.”

This is quite a unique offering by the Apple Vision Pro rival, and with the Qualcomm XR2+ processor supporting the heavy rendering loads, the device will “enable real-time, high-definition and realistic rendering of textures of 3D objects and facial expressions of human characters.”

Intended Use Case of the Apple Vision Pro Rival

Sony’s announcement at the biggest tech event in the world, while interesting for everyone watching, is targeted at a very specific audience that will find the device useful. Unlike the Apple Vision Pro, which is suited for your virtual meetings but is otherwise likely best utilized for enhancing your entertainment needs. The Apple AR headset is also meant for a limited audience considering its premium price, but it still does not overlap with those who will most benefit from the Sony XR headset. The Apple Vision Pro rival is one only in name, its intended purpose being to help designers and those in the creative field who can benefit from the 3D modeling technology that the device has to offer.

Sony hasn’t elaborated on what else the device can be used for, and their current aim centers on facilitating the use of 3D computer graphics in various creative fields. Sony appears to be targetting collaborations with 3D production software developers in the entertainment and industrial design fields, with the initial collaboration being exclusively with Siemens and its NX Immersive Designer software, a 3-dimensional computer-aided design software package that supports 3D modeling. 

“We designed our Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 to deliver 4K display resolution, cutting-edge graphics, and unparalleled performance to enable creators to build innovative spatial content that will transform all industries for the better. It’s exciting to see Sony enter the enterprise space with their spatial content creation system and utilize Snapdragon XR technologies to unleash more realistic, detailed, and precise Mixed Reality (MR)/VR experiences that will help developers and creators push forward an even more immersive future.” 

— Said Bakadir, Senior Director, Product Management of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

The Sony XR head-mounted display and controller set doesn’t seem to have a fancy title like the Vision Pro just yet, and the device that was displayed at the CES 2024 event might not even be the final product we see released later in 2024. Still, if the prototype leaves us this awed then there’s quite a good chance the final product will also be something to behold.