As we have pointed out here repeatedly, virtual reality (VR) glasses tend to get the lion’s share of media coverage, while augmented reality (AR) glasses keep racking up wins in enterprise markets. Both have important health and medical applications. VR glasses have been found to help patients manage pain with little or no medication. AR glasses deliver information for healthcare professionals, and can give vision-impaired users access to support services. Still, after publicity surrounding the initial false start by Google Glass, many people are not aware of the AR glasses market.
One of the leaders in the segment is Epson. The company recently announced a new model of their popular Moverio Smart Glasses. The BT-53 model lets users plug them into any device that uses a standard HDMI output, or that can use a USB-C connector as a display output. The glasses rely on a pair of transparent OLED panels: tiny displays fabricated on a silicon substrates. They have 1280 by 720 pixel resolution (which qualifies as “HD”) and create a virtual image that is the equivalent of an 80-inch screen viewed from 16 feet away. The two images mean that they can produce stereoscopic 3D images. They are designed to fit over most prescription glasses, and are ANSI Z87.1 compliant for use as safety glasses. They also have a 5 MP camera, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and ambient light sensor that can gather useful data about the wearer’s location and activities.
By eliminating the separate controller box, the glasses now act as standard displays which eliminates connectivity issues. This greatly simplifies configuration issues and will make it easier to develop new applications.