Going Full-Circle: Why the Next Generation of AR Glasses may Reprise the Iconic Round Lens

From John Lennon to Harry Potter, round glasses have been popular throughout the ages – both in reality and fiction. Now, as the world prepares itself for the next generation of augmented reality glasses, we may see it become a fashion standard over the coming years.

2022 is set to be a watershed year for the emergence of augmented reality glasses. Whilst AR eyewear is nothing new, the technology has only recently had a chance to grow powerful enough to become more functional in everyday use.

global revenue by end user

(Image: TechChannel News)


According to the chart above, AR applications for enterprise and consumer uses are set to grow exponentially over the course of the decade, with revenues being bolstered towards $160 billion throughout the industry by 2030.

At the early stages of this expected AR revenue explosion, the models being released today are set to shape the early industry, and one of the biggest releases penned in for the coming months is Magic Leap 2 – the second incarnation of Magic Leap’s AR headset range.

As we can see from Magic Leap’s first model, the range of eyewear is characterized by its striking circular lenses – which is a trend that’s set to continue in the Magic Leap 2.

The reason Magic Leap 2’s release, which is set to go on sale in 2022 according to the company’s CEO, Peggy Johnson, is such a big deal is that the second generation of AR glasses are likely to be far more practical and ergonomic than their predecessors.

The Magic Leap 2 is set to be far more slender and natural in appearance in comparison to Magic Leap’s earlier effort. Essentially, this generation of AR eyewear is set to look more like glasses than bulkier goggles – and it’s hoped that the more streamlined approach will help to boost adoption rates at consumer level.

Although the original Magic Leap was relatively light in comparison to its competitors, weighing in at just 316 grams, the second version of the eyewear is set to be far lighter, with the product weight listed as 252 grams. For comparison, Magic Leap’s competitors like HoloLens and Meta Quest 2 carry a weight of over 400 grams.

This makes the company’s choice for a more slender, circular lens a design and shape revolution for the industry that only contributes to its ergonomic appearance.

One of the reasons why Magic Leap can deliver a far lighter design is because the headset’s computational power is located externally in the form of a puck-shaped mini-computer that can be carried whilst wearing the glasses.

Significantly, the company partnered with VMware in October 2021 to leverage a new product for endpoint management in the VMware Workspace ONE XR Hub. This, coupled with greater tracking capabilities means that the Magic Leap 2’s ability to immerse users into an augmented world will be hard to beat for its competitors.

Despite the stylish circular lenses that Magic Leap uses, the eyewear offers a far greater field of view for users. Whilst natural field of view for humans is around 135 degrees, with most fixed VR headsets offering 110 degrees of vision – Magic Leap’s first headset provided just 50 degrees throughout their field of view. Now, the Magic Leap 2 has been upgraded to 70 degrees – far greater than Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, for instance, which offers around 52 degrees.

The arrival of Magic Leap 2 may herald the return of a style icon, with round glasses yet to emerge from fashion subcultures in recent years. The success of the headset and its mainstream adoption could spark a fresh hayday for the design classic.

The Art of the Round Glasses

Despite the design’s prominence in the first half of the 20th Century, and its synonymous status with some of history and fiction’s biggest names, round glasses have struggled to achieve the evergreen status of aviators, for instance.

Although they’ve never quite developed a foothold in the mainstream, round glasses still have a large market and certainly have achieved cult status for their association with The Beatles star John Lennon, and Harry Potter. In addition to this, Oasis’ singer Liam Gallagher’s adoption of round glasses saw a reprise occur in the 1990s that remains strong among indie music fans today.

Perhaps because of their less-than-mainstream status, round glasses have become trademark features for the famous people who wear them. So much so that a pair of John Lennon’s iconic round glasses were recently auctioned for £15,000.

So how could round glasses that have cult status find a new place in the mainstream? Well not only are rounded lenses becoming increasingly popular with both men and women wearers in recent years, but the style can complement any face shape, too.

The race to produce the world’s favorite AR glasses is very much on in 2022, and the Magic Leap 2 may not only win over a wide range of users but the striking style could also pave the way for a round glasses resurgence in the coming years.