Former Microsoft exec launches new AR headset

The Almer Arc 2 headset will allow users to connect remotely “as if they were physically present.”

The Swiss augmented reality (AR) startup Almer has announced the launch of Arc 2, its new headset featuring a 25MP camera, beamforming microphones, built-in speakers, and a holographic see-through screen with a battery life of eight hours.

“Our headset is much like a jet fighter visor, mounted directly in front of your eyes, featuring a transparent, see-through screen. The Almer Arc is a lightweight, compact, and easy-to-use AR headset,” Sebastian Beetschen, chief executive and co-founder of Almer, said.

Almer counts Switzerland's largest defense contractor among its clients, which uses Arc headsets to service fighter jets remotely in the US, the company said.

Almer positions its headsets as a more convenient alternative to Apple or Microsoft products, especially for use in industrial environments, as well as a more affordable one.

With retail prices starting at just under $180, Arc glasses cost only a fraction of Apple Vision Pro or Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed reality headsets, which start from $3,499 and $3,500, respectively.

At 138 grams, the Arc 2 headset is four times lighter than the Apple Vision Pro, according to Almer. It said it can also be used in mission-critical tasks and changing environments, as opposed to the intended static environment use of the Vision Pro.

“We have learned a lot on how to make the headset super adaptable, and users can set their preferences on how they wear it. Something new entrants like Apple still have to learn,” Beetschen said.

Almer Arc 2 primarily targets industrial use. Image by Almer

Almers also announced it had struck a strategic partnership with the Germany-based remote IT support company TeamViewer. Mei Dent, chief product and technology officer at TeamViewer, said the partnership would help expand the use of AR technology in industrial settings.

“Approximately 80 percent of the global workforce does not work at a desk but at a company’s frontline, and most of them currently benefit very little from digital transformation,” Dent said.

The global AR market is expected to grow from $62.75 billion in 2023 to $1.1 trillion by 2030, with Almer hoping to tap into that potential as it plans to expand beyond German-speaking Europe.

Before co-founding Almer in 2021, its chief executive, Sebastian Beetschen, worked on the HoloLens 2 at Microsoft Research.

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