With Apple apparently on the verge of releasing its first AR/VR headset at WWDC23, an Israeli startup called Sightful has unveiled Spacetop, which it calls “the world’s first augmented-reality laptop.”
Spacetop has no dedicated display. The user dons AR glasses to view tabs across a curved, 100-inch virtual space that no one else can see. You have to wonder if this practical step into AR is the right move at the right time — or too practical for its own good.
Sightful Spacetop AR laptop
Sightful’s new Spacetop is a hardware deck with a keyboard but no display. It comes with NReal Air AR glasses with 2K resolution that enable you to view a 100-inch, curved virtual display in front of you. The display remains invisible to others.
Here’s how Sightful described it:
Spacetop represents the next generation in personal computing and the first application of Augmented Reality that seamlessly fits into users’ daily lives. With customized hardware and a proprietary spatial environment, Spacetop leverages AR to remove the physical constraints of standard laptops. The result is a first-of-its-kind product that allows users to carry with them a massive, private, virtual workspace designed and customized by the user to be their most creative self, no matter where they are – all in a familiar laptop form factor.
Laptop as comfort zone
Sightful’s release seems to indicate a widening AR competitive battlefield. Spacetop looks like a practical step into AR using a version of the ubiquitous laptop so many people know so well.
In fact, that’s one of the device’s selling points, in addition to the large virtual workspace. As Sightful said:
Spacetop operates seamlessly and intuitively as a laptop. Users enjoy a familiar but dramatically expanded experience in AR with no complicated gesture controls to learn, and no external hardware or software awkwardly integrated with non-AR devices.
Meanwhile, Apple reportedly plans to release a higher-quality AR/VR headset than what’s already out there — possibly with stunning 4K resolution in each eye and a raft of cool new apps. (And, outside of AR, Humane tries to do away with screens altogether for its upcoming AI application.)
Could it be a fallback position for Apple?
At $2,000, Spacetop is probably considerably cheaper than Apple’s first headset. And perhaps, if the headset doesn’t sell well enough, an Apple version of an AR laptop might be in order.
Sightful seems committed to the laptop format for practicality’s sake.
“Two worlds sit at a crossroads: Laptops are the centerpiece of our daily working lives, but the technology has not evolved with the modern, work from anywhere, privacy matters, ‘road warrior’ mentality. Meanwhile, Augmented Reality is full of potential and promise, but is yet to find its daily use case,” said Sightful CEO and cofounder Tamir Berliner.
“We are at the perfect moment for a significant paradigm shift in a device we all know and love, and Spacetop Early Access is the first step in that journey,” he added.
Smallish, screenless ‘laptop’
Spacetop is roughly the size of a svelte laptop, at 3.3 pounds. But some of its specs are more like what’s in some Android smartphones. It contains a Snapdragon 865 chip and an Adreno 650 GPU along with 8GB RAM and 256GB hard drive. Sightful says it can achieve five hours of battery life. See the full specs below.
- Operating system: Spacetop OS
- Virtual screen size: 100 inches
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip
- Kryo 585TM 8-core 64-bit CPU, up to 3.1 GHz speed
- AdrenoTM 650 GPU
- Battery life: 5+ hours
- Memory: 8 GB
- Storage: 256 GB
- 2 USB-C ports with PD 3.0 fast charging (up to 65W)
- DisplayPort 1.4 (support external Full-HD screen)
- Full-sized keyboard and clickable touchpad
- Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, 5G NR Sub-6
- 5MP video camera with 2560 x 1920 resolution
- Dimensions Height: 1.57 in high x 10.47 in wide x 9.8 in deep
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
In order to buy Spacetop, you need to fill out a form on the Sightful website. “If you and your Spacetop are a match, we will provide a link to purchase via email,” the site said. Then, if you’re chosen as one of the 1,000 “early adopters,” you get to pay $2,000 for the device.
Where to apply: Sightful