Epson will soon release their Moverio BT-200 augmented reality smart glasses. The smart glasses cover the field of vision of the user and are capable of producing both 2D and 3D graphics. Unlike Google Glass which has a monocular eyepiece outside your line of sight, the Moverio covers your field of view as regular glass frames would.
Each lens produces its own independent view, thereby giving the Moverio the ability to produce 3D graphics. The Moverio’s plastic frames produce a 960 x 540 resolution display in front of each eye. A camera and motion sensor are built in the smart glasses. The design of the glasses takes into account those who wear prescription glasses allowing them to rest the smart glasses on top of their regular frames. A clip-in prescription frame set is also available for those who want a more lightweight system.
The computer graphics produced by the Moverio are overlayed on top what the user sees in the real world around them. The Moverio runs on Google OS so what the user sees is a transparent Android interface.
Eric Mizufuka, product manager for new products at Epson America, in a recent interview with Slashgear explains,
“I think you have, going into it, this consumer perception where most people haven’t tried Glass and they don’t understand that it’s a very small screen outside of your field of view… Glass did an awesome, awesome job of finding a use-case and building for that use case, which is a comfortable way for a always-on, out-of-the-way device that fits naturally into your lifestyle. Whereas we want to be in your field of view, we want a large image, we want to do 3D, we want to be the de-facto augmented reality smart glasses.”
The Moverio comes with an external control box inside of which is a 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4460 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and a microSD slot, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and a touchpad used for navigation and control. Unlike Glass which has a built-in battery, the Moverio’s battery is also stored within the external control box, a sacrifice Epson made in order to provide higher display capabilities.
“We have much larger displays [than Glass] and we have two of them; we have an always-on use-case, they’re always on” explains Mizufuka. “Since we also see ourselves as the augmented reality platform of choice for smart glasses, the camera’s also always on. So there are big power requirements, which [the separate box] addresses. You get up to six hours of battery life. Obviously there are some technological things we can do to lessen the power consumption in the near term.”
The touchpad allows for the Mozerio interface to be manipulated much like an Android Phone.
“Google’s taken a huge challenge on in building a unique UI, which is really cool but, for Epson, we needed to be as widely usable as possible. We wanted to utilize native Android. So the touchpad actually provides a relatively seamless experience, and it works with most Android apps out of the box” said Mizufuka.
An exciting feature that some developers are exploring with the Moverio is the “second screen experience”. Mizufuka explains it could be “an app that, you look at your TV, and you see your Twitter feed to the side, and actors and actresses above it, and maybe an IM chat with your friends about the game. And it all organizes around the TV, you’re not looking down [at a phone or tablet], it’s right there.”
Epson plans to start shipping the Moverio BT-200 in March. It can be pre-ordered for $699 from the Prelaunch.com.