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I had a chance to do a demo of the Lynx R-1 standalone mixed reality headset at the Augmented World Expo, which was a really compelling experience that blended the virtual and real better than any other headset I’ve seen do before. Part of the magic was having a headset specifically engineering to minimize the distance from the the cameras from my eyes, therefore minimizing the normal proprioceptive disconnect between what I’m feeling in my body vs the offset that I’m seeing in my arms and hands. It’s the first XR HMD that I’ve seen that can legitimately call itself a Mixed Reality device — as opposed to Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which are really just VR HMDs with the aspiration to maybe eventually live into their names of doing mixed reality.

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I had a chance to catch up with Lynx CEO Stan Larroque on the last day of AWE to recap his first public demos of the Lynx R-1, their collaboration with Qualcomm on using the full capacity of the mixed reality features build into the XR2 chip, their unique four-fold catadioptric freeform prism optics design, what their OpenXR runtime integration will be able to unlock with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces, their successful Kickstarter raising 2.4x their target amount, how they’re leaning into and leveraging the broader open source communities to compete with the biggest players in XR, and his own first real experience of mixed reality with the Lynx that only happened about a month ago.

The Lynx R-1 is expected to ship some of their first units in April 2022, and I’m excited to see what innovations in mixed reality and augmented reality prototypes are able to be created with this headset. They’re one of the few remaining, independent headsets out there competing against the biggest tech companies in the world, but yet taking a leap of faith in how compelling headsets that are truly optimized to be standalone and all-in-one devices capable of virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality. They’re optimizations to focus solely on mixed reality yield some really interesting tradeoffs, but the end experience is totally worth it is a device that starts to show the real power of seamlessly blending the virtual and the real.

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