I’ve been developing an open source operating system called Kros for wearable portable computers with immersive display, natural input, full positional awareness, and a seamless transition between reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Check out the embedded video for a demonstration of the proof-of-concept.
Imagine a wearable portable all-purpose computer that has, not a small flat home screen, but a 3D home world that surrounds you. Imagine being able to do all your computer activities, from work to play, from the mundane to the sublime, with intuitive control in a mixed reality environment. Imagine how this computer would empower you to be more productive, be more creative, and have more enriching experiences than you could with a PC or smartphone.
This new computer experience is possible by combining VR hardware with the right operating system. The necessary hardware – a VR headset with video passthrough and hand tracking – is already available, but there hasn’t been an operating system that produces this new computer experience. Kros aims to be that operating system.
Augmented Reality (AR) means overlaying virtual objects onto a view of the real world. Virtual Reality (VR) means exclusively presenting a virtual world to the user.
While mixed reality is sometimes, perhaps erroneously, used to mean AR, when I say Kros is a mixed reality operating system, I mean that Kros is designed for displays that can present both AR and VR.
The Kros operating system aims to be completely hardware vendor neutral. My goal is for any person or manufacturer to put together a computer and be able to install Kros on it, provided it has the following features:
- sufficient computing power
- a mixed reality headset (providing AR and pure VR)
- a headset mounted camera
- hand tracking
You won’t need to build such a computer personally. You would be able to buy a hardware Developer Kit from us or, in the future hopefully, a consumer-grade computer from a third-party manufacturer.
The true strength of Kros is the variety of applications a general-use mixed reality operating system can support. Aside from running productivity apps you might run with a traditional PC or VR games you might run with a VR-only headset, there is potential for apps not possible in any other computing environment. Examples I can imagine include:
- stereoscopic camera
- navigation with unobtrusive arrows to guide you
- real-time written language translator
- real-life speech captions
- sign language translator
- hands-free (or better yet, hand-controlled) AR games
- surrounding noise visualizer for the hearing impaired
- photosensitive epilepsy mitigation
I suspect that there could be many useful apps I can’t even imagine. Best of all, you would only need one computer to run all of these.
The apps developed by us and third-party developers would be available in Kros’s built-in app store, the Kros Store.
For more technical information about the development of Kros, check out the development log posts.