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Spacetop AR Laptop: A Promising Concept with Current Limitations

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The unveiling of the Spacetop AR Laptop at AWE 2023 showcased an intriguing concept that seeks to revolutionize the way we interact with laptops. By replacing the traditional physical screen with a pair of AR glasses, the Spacetop laptop, developed by Sightful, promises a futuristic and immersive computing experience. However, a hands-on experience revealed several limitations that hinder its current usability.

At first glance, the sleek and futuristic design of the Spacetop laptop captured attention amidst the bustling exhibition. The use of AR glasses as the display medium, developed in collaboration with XREAL (formerly Nreal), added to its uniqueness. But the initial excitement quickly gave way to concerns regarding the limited field of view.

The restricted field of view of the glasses posed a significant challenge, as it required constant head tilting to view the entire virtual screen. This issue resulted in “windowing,” where virtual objects appeared cut off and failed to overlay fully. Attempted solutions, such as moving the virtual monitor further away, were ineffective due to the glasses’ 1080p resolution, which made it difficult to read the text when pushed too far back.

Another drawback of the Spacetop laptop was the absence of hand tracking, a feature that has become increasingly prevalent in the field of AR. Users were left with a trackpad, which proved to be slow and inadequate for navigating a vast spatial spectrum. Tasks that could be performed quickly with touchscreen or hand tracking, such as moving tabs or resizing, became time-consuming and frustrating.

Furthermore, the positioning of the webcam on the keyboard created an unflattering angle akin to a spycam. While users could align their virtual screen with the webcam to mitigate gaze-switching, this compromise highlighted the inherent design limitations of the Spacetop laptop.

However, despite these current shortcomings, Sightful is committed to addressing these display limitations and iteratively improving the Spacetop laptop. The company acknowledges the need to keep pace with advancements in the industry and is open to collaborating with other glasses manufacturers in the future.

Nevertheless, the question remains as to why consumers would choose to invest $2,000 in the Spacetop laptop when they could acquire the XREAL glasses for a fraction of the price and achieve similar functionality. The Spacetop team emphasizes its AR-first design and focus, highlighting features such as spatial screen movement and a Reality Mode button for full pass-through.

Undeniably, the potential for the Spacetop AR Laptop is immense. Large field-of-view, high-resolution AR displays and ultralight tracking solutions showcased at AWE 2023 suggest that future generations of glasses could enhance the overall experience. The Spacetop laptop could become a preferred work tool for various settings, including remote work, cafes, and co-working spaces, offering privacy advantages to users who value personal workspace.

While the current iteration of the Spacetop AR Laptop falls short of its promise as a superior alternative to traditional laptops, the concept’s appeal and social acceptability cannot be overlooked. The combination of AR glasses with a visible laptop or tablet form factor immediately communicates its purpose to onlookers, without confusion or ridicule.

In conclusion, the Spacetop AR Laptop presents an intriguing vision for the future of computing, but its current limitations hinder its practicality and value proposition. With ongoing improvements and upgrades, Sightful’s commitment to refining the user experience holds promise. As the technology evolves, it will be fascinating to observe how the Spacetop AR Laptop evolves and shapes the landscape of spatial computing.