Canon's Mixed Reality headset delivers augmented reality for an eye-watering price tag

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Thus far, Google is merely teasing us with previews of its Google Glass Android eyewear, but Canon just beat it to the augmented reality punch with the launch of its own computerized glasses. You'll want to bring your checkbook, though—Canon's PC-powered VR headset costs more than most college educations.

Canon's Mixed Reality glasses go on sale on March 1 for an eye-watering $125,000, or precisely 83 times more than Google Glass, which will cost $1,500 when it arrives some time by the end of 2014. There's a reason for that sky-high price tag, however. Unlike Google Glass, which is aimed at consumers, Canon’s Mixed Reality is pitched as a high-end tool for product designers in the automotive, construction, manufacturing, or research fields.

Also called MREAL, the system works differently than Google Glass. MREAL's bulky-looking headset positions two cameras in front of your eyes, which display a combination of video from your surroundings and computer-generated graphics. What's the point? Canon created MREAL to allow designers to interact with simple mockups of their products, which—thanks to the headset's computer-powered augmented reality—will look like highly detailed objects through the glasses. Basically, it lets designers interact with intricate, computer-generated versions of their ideas in a 3D environment.

A simple prototype looks like a finished camera through Canon Mixed Reality.

MREAL also differs from Google Glass in that it needs to be tethered to a PC. The head-mounted display is linked to a controller, which is itself connected to a computer generating the video of your surroundings when using the glasses.

As if the $125,000 price tag wasn't steep enough, Canon also charges a $25,000 annual maintenance fee for the kit. It looks like the best chance for affordable augmented reality eyewear is still coming from Google in the near future.

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