Why AR Smart Glasses?
What if you could increase worker efficiency significantly while reducing errors and improving employee safety and satisfaction? AR Smart Glasses provide these advantages for numerous companies who have been quietly experimenting with augmented reality for the past several years.
Last month, Deloitte surveyed 500 executives from mid-market companies across various industries and found that 67% are testing or building a program, or have already developed mature applications of mixed reality technology. Greenlight Insights' Virtual IQ Survey results further validate this finding with 3 in 10 commercial IT buyers reporting that augmented reality will be important or highly important to their company's competitiveness by Year 2020.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the technologies these companies are using to augment their business processes, with a technology comparison chart at the end.
Daqri Smart Glasses
This month, DAQRI launched their AR Smart Glasses for enterprise. The glasses connect to an integrated computer to deliver real-time data to help the user visualize and understand their environment. The computer is small enough to be worn on a belt, making the headset a fully mobile solution. The Glasses include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, with a wide-angle tracking camera, a depth-sensing camera, and an HD color camera for taking photos and videos.
DAQRI claims the $4,995 purchase price will be quickly offset by productivity and efficiency improvements, making the glasses a worthwhile long-term investment.
Epson Moverio BT-300
Epson Moverio smart glasses are aimed at the enterprise space, and feature two transparent Si-OLED displays in your direct field of view. This provides stereoscopic vision of the AR overlays with 1280x720 image resolution and a 23-degree FOV. Moverio runs on an Android operating system with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU. The $700 Moverio recognizes multiple inputs, including a handheld controller, gesture, Motion, TouchPad, and Voice.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition
For more than two years, Google Glass Enterprise Edition has been used in a number of companies who are developing new processes to take advantage of the modular $1,500 Glass Pods that can turn compatible prescription or safety glasses into AR smart glasses. Glass EE users load apps created in-house, or from companies like Upskill. Then the apps display instructions with text, videos, animations and/or images right in their line of sight.
Compared to the original Glass, Glass EE has a better camera (upgraded from 5 megapixels to 8), longer battery life, faster Wi-Fi and processor, and a red light that turns on when recording video.
ODG R-8 and R-9 Smart Glasses
ODG is betting that smart glasses will eventually replace other screens, so they are positioning their new R-9 smart glasses as a crossover device, aimed at bringing entertainment and work together in the same HMD. The R-9 glasses are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor running Reticle OS on Android 7.0. They feature dual microphones, directional speakers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, and can track position through 6 DoF with a high-speed IMU, GPS and other sensors.
R-9 glasses, priced at $1,800, are targeted at the prosumer and light enterprise AR markets. The R-9 runs AR and VR apps developed with ODG's Project Horizon platform.
Olympus EyeTek AR for Enterprise
This month, Olympus introduced their EyeTrek Insight EI-10 smart glasses for the enterprise. The $1,500 glasses have a swappable battery, which will be useful due to the 1-hour run time. The EyeTrek runs open-source software built with development tools from Olympus, on an Android 4.2.2 with a TI OMAP 4470 CPU with 1GB of RAM. A clip attaches it to prescription or safety glasses, providing a 640x400 OLED display with a 13-degree field of view. Other features include a camera, microphone, 3 motion tracking sensors, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses
The Vuzix M300 AR Smart Glasses for enterprise are powered by a dual-core Intel Atom CPU running on an Android 6 OS, and can be adjusted to work in the right or left eye. The $1,500 smart glasses can be operated through a controller or voice interface with 3 DoF location tracking. It comes with some apps pre-loaded, and more can be purchased from the Vuzix website.
ODG’s CEO projected volumes reaching 25,000 units in 2018, with revenues topping $25 million, including $5 million in sales of the consumer-oriented Vuzix Blade 3000 smart glasses, at approximately $1,000 each. This would mean that AR is starting to reach mainstream business.
The Greenlight View: Analyst Opinion
These six smart glasses represent a tiny sample of the more than 150 head-mounted displays that Greenlight Insights tracks in RealitySpecs, a powerful online database of hundreds of virtual and augmented reality specifications and in-depth reports. As more enterprises integrate AR smart glasses into their internal workflows, we expect to see hardware evolve rapidly. Rather than wait for the hardware to improve, we suggest starting a test project now, and find out which OEMs, models, and capabilities work for your use cases. Then, you will be able to hit the ground running when the hardware and software are more mature.