2015 was the year which we saw the rise of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications and solutions. It all started with Google Glass project which enabled the further exploration of eye wear technology that simulates reality. While Oculus Rift and similar products have gained widespread acceptance in the Virtual Reality landscape, there is no big player covering Augmented Reality. Today, we are going to take a look at Epson’s Moverio BT-200 smart glasses and see if it has got what it takes to be the choice of AR application.
Epson’s image projection technology has allowed them to have a head start in the game. The Moverio BT-200 smart glasses works by having an extremely small high resolution full colour LCD that is projected on two screens, one for each eye. This allows 3D display and other AR applications to be possible.
Understanding that building smart capabilities within the smart glass itself would make its design of the glasses much bulkier and heavier, Epson has decided to move the control unit to an external device. This means that the control unit and glasses are separated. Epson has built in an Android 4.0 operating system within the control unit and also integrated buttons and a trackpad on the control unit for navigation of the operating system that is displayed on the glasses.
It has to be noted that these glasses are fully transparent and would not block any visual sights when no projection of display occurs. When wearing the glasses and switching on the system, one will be awed by such amazing technology, where a huge display is shown right in front of your eyes, layered on top of reality. This kind of solution makes it perfect for AR applications, opening up various possibilities in the AR landscape.
It is quite disappointing that Epson has decided to do away with every Google App. This also measn that apps installed are limited to their own Moverio App Store. Luckily, the store has quite a number of fun and useful applications that should be able to maximise the full potential of the Moverio BT-200 smart glass.
Great Entertainment Solution
The Epson BT-200 is the ultimate choice for consuming media. You can plug in your favourite earphones or headphones into the audio jack and enjoy a great movie viewing experience on the BT-200 glasses. Moreover, since the glasses are made to view 3D content, movie that are in the 3D format can also be consumed, with the right player installed on the Android OS. It just feels great that you can view a movie anytime and anywhere privately, without disturbing anyone around you.
The Development Experience
Needs for better Interface
There are really some set backs when using the Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses, particularly on the human interface with the smart glasses. Having a screen projected in front of your eyes also mean that it could not be as straight forward to interact directly with the computer, as your vision will be completely immersed by the display, leaving no additional sight for an interactions with keyboard or similar interfaces. The trackpad that is featured on the control unit is painstakingly difficult to use, especially when there is a need to type or input content into the system. From our perspective, better ways of interactions can be implemented instead of using a trackpad. Some type of interface that can be put into consideration is gesture and motion control. This can make interfacing to the system similar to that of interacting with a Microsoft Kinect XBOX system. Luckily, as the Moverio BT-200 supports OTG, we managed to hook up a standard USB mouse and keyboard easily to work with the smart glasses.
Also, the headset is still quite heavy and may slip. This is due to the connected cable to the control unit. It would be better if the glasses can be connected to the control unit wirelessly, while holding a small in built battery to power it. This could be direction for future versions of the Moverio devices.
In conclusion, we find that the Epson Moverio BT-200 is a step into the future with its concept of Augmented Reality glasses. Being the pioneer in this technology allows the company to learn and build even better products in the future. We definitely see a lot of potential in such wearable devices in the quest to make our lives easier. We look forward to the new version of the Moverio smart glass, and would really like to see the different possibilities that developers can bring to such platforms.