One thing for sure, there were plenty of AR headsets and glasses on show this year at CES! I saw 25 or 30, and probably didn’t see all of them. Lots of new ones. This is a good indication to me that AR has now graduated into the “…it’s going to happen and it’s going to be big…” category. This may also be driven by the emphasis that Apple and to some degree Google (and others) are placing on AR. But most that I saw were just the headgear, not the complete operating systems, apps platforms, ecosystem in place that the likes of Vuzix, Hololens and others have labored over for the past 10+ years and have in place. For the most part the ones I saw were just headgear without the total solution, sectors and applications in the package or even fully understood. This is really where AR was 5 years ago, so I wish these Google Glass copycats the best of luck, but not where I would invest. There were a few that did catch my eye as being behind the leaders, but moving in that direction, and I have highlighted here six that I will be watching for progress over the next year or two.
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The FlexPai Foldable Smartphone is interesting, but it’s the flexible screen technology from Royole that really Caught My Eye! Screens as “Thin as a Butterfly’s Wing” they claim. Their overview of Flexible Display Technology: “Flexible displays offer many advantages over conventional display technology. They are ultra-thin, light weight, bendable, portable, shatter-proof, unbreakable and low energy”. Flexibledisplays such as these could profoundly affect the next generation of personal, even wearable products. Potentially enabling technology for brand new form factors and applications. I will be watching this space.
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Last Gadget Standing finalist
Modius from Neurovalens - a few short, relaxing sessions a day apparently does the trick!
More and more, consumer wearables are making meaningful improvements to people’s well-being. Helping people achieve leaner, healthier bodies improves quality of life and could radically reduce healthcare costs and even save lives. So this one got my attention!
This product - Modius, is a non-invasive headset which, through vestibular nerve stimulation claims to do just that. The device was designed to “activate the epicenter in the brain - the hypothalamus - that causes people to struggle with their weight”.
Neurovalens, a neuroscience technology company headed up by Dr. Jason McKeown, launched the product last year after a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and secured orders on a global scale. Results from users in 80 countries are now pouring in: they claim 80% of users have experienced significant weight loss from using the device and 1 ton of collective weight has been shed!
This one caught my eye and is one to watch in my opinion. I will be watching :-)
This was one of the interesting discoveries that caught my eye at the JETCO Japan Pavilion. A Google Glass-like wearable display which could be carried like a pen in the pocket, and then "transformed" into a one-eye display with camera, battery and software on board. On the table was a working Vuzix M100 I suppose to show how the concept model could be used in various applications.
i found the concept interesting for someone who would use Smart Glasses off and on in the course of the day in their profession. Sort of like taking out your glasses to get a clearer, close up look at a situation, but in this case with image capture, remote assistance and relevant information on tap.
A nice concept, but not sure of the useability aspects.
I say, let's just move on quickly to the next phase - normal looking glasses with lenses that augment your vision with relevant info, and do a bit of life blogging and sharing at the same time!
There was an impressive demo at the Fujitsu booth showing how a maintenance engineer could observe and adjust flow rates in pipe and valves and make sure they were operating properly and even make adjustments to controls. Smart Glasses from Vuzix were coupled to a "smart gesture" glove to put the engineer in control of a number of complex operations.
it was quite an impressive demo from the Augmented Reality perspective, but I'm hoping that the technologically impressive, but somewhat cumbersome "glove" will be replaced with hand gestures and voice command recognition in the near future.
DoCoMo had a very effective demo of face recognition at their booth. They were showing how headworn Smart Glasses with both camera and display on board can see, analyse and then display to the user info about the person being looked at. Leads to all kind of questions about privacy, etc. But the state of the technology is well demonstrated by this demo.
It illustrated well the art of the possible in terms of image recognition and the resulting display of relevant information which has many applications and in professional and industrial terms, would be quite empowering especially in situations where the user needs access to info about what he is looking at and needs to operate in a handsfree mode.
The demo was shown using Google Glass which is still in developer only mode ("Explorers") and commercially available Vuzix M100 which is already being deployed in several industrial applications.
Smart Glasses have graduated from the geeky gadgets phase to business enhancing use cases. The top three Smart Glasses in terms of commercial availability were present on many booths at MWC being used to show off real money making or saving applications.
What caught my eye was the showing of workplace enhancing applications by many of the large corporations using Smart Glasses in real industrial and professional applications. Smart Glasses from the three Smart Glasses leaders, Google, Vuzix and Epson were on show demoing specific industrial applications such as warhousing operations, field repair, flow control, face recognition, security, and others. Often these were shown interchangeably with a single application being shown most often on Google Glass and Vuzix M100.
Vuzix devices were shown exclusively on the Fujitsu, BarcodEye and Brilliant Services booths.
SAP and DoCoMo were showing Applications on Google Glass and Vuzix M100 all three were used with various Augmented Reality applications on the Wikitude and Metaio booths.
quite an advancement from last year where only prototype devices were on show.
Evidence of the Augmented Reality and Smart Glasses ecosystem forming for end to end solutions took major steps forward at MWC.
Firstly, Layar, Metaio and Wikitude, the largest AR platform providers, have cooperated to make it easy for AR content to be shared across their technology platforms. There was a demonstration of AR content being used interchangeably by these browsers at an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) event at the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya (ICC) during the Mobile World Congress. This will greatly expand the scope of content creators and application developers to apply their innovations across multiple platforms.
Secondly, was the joint announcement of AR software platform company Wikitude and Vuzix of an alliance to offer SDK and APIs for Wikitude licensees to develop AR applications directly on the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses device. This follows a similar alliance announcement made previously between Vuzix and Metaio.
Heartrate monitoring is becoming much less cumbersome and seems to be an important element not just of exercising, but to monitor your lifestyle as well. The new Mio Link is wrist worn, low power so batteries last and is continuously monitoring. Indicator lights on the unit give you indication of what zone you are in (heartrate-wise) but it works with the Mio Apps and others as well. Also has ANT+ for connectivity to other sports devices. Uses what they call electro-optical cell technology and replaces the more cumbersome chest straps used now. The styling is what caught my eye.
Available this month (March) at $99.