- India's Jio has announced it is working on a mixed reality headset called Jio Glass.
- The headset connects to the internet via a cable that must be plugged into the owner's smartphone.
- Jio believes that the hardware could be useful for virtual office meetings and virtual school lessons.
A new entrant has emerged in the race to develop smart glasses that provide consumers with mixed and augmented reality experiences.
India's Jio, part of the Reliance Industries conglomerate, announced a new mixed reality headset at its annual general meeting on Wednesday called Jio Glass.
Kiran Thomas, president of Reliance Industries, said Jio Glass already works with over 25 applications. The black headset connects to the internet via a cable that must be plugged into the owner's smartphone, he said. It weighs 75 grams and has a camera in between the left and right lenses. It's unclear how much the device will cost or when it will go on sale.
The executive demoed Jio Glass being used to hold a work meeting in a virtual office with two colleagues. One of them appeared as an avatar while the other appeared in 2D form.
Thomas also showed how the technology could be used in an education setting.
"With Jio Glass, the traditional way of learning geography will now be history," he said, showing how students and teachers could make virtual visits to the Taj Mahal in India, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, and the Colosseum in Rome.
Jio is entering a market that others have failed to crack.
Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens and Snap Spectacles are arguably the three best known efforts, while Magic Leap has also been working on a device in secret for years. None of the offerings have gained mass adoption.
Reliance Industries is a large, sprawling company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia. Traditionally a petrochemical company, today it has many subsidiaries including a technology arm firm called Jio Platforms.
Over the last few months, Ambani has been selling off large chunks of Jio Platforms in order to clear Reliance Industries' debt pile. Facebook invested $5.7 billion in April, while Google announced a $4.5 billion investment on Wednesday. In total, investors have bought over $20 billion worth of shares in Jio Platforms.
"Reliance is now truly a zero net debt company well ahead of my goal of March 2021," Ambani said at the AGM on Wednesday. "We now have an extremely strong balance sheet that will support all our hypergrowth plans."
He added: "I believe that the time has come for a truly global digital product and services company to emerge from India and be counted among the best in the world."