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.
InvenSense sensors and analysis software are in just about everything that moves in the mobile sector (I was told). Very accurate sound and motion sensing devices such as MEMS microphones and multi-axis motion tracking devices. Depending on application, InvenSense offers one to nine axis devices which include gyros, accelerometers and compass functions. These are their bread and butter, but of special note are their analysis software capabilities which make sense out of what is happening to turn raw data into situation and context terms. I spoke at length with Tanja Hofner, their Sr. Director of Hardware Applications and learned a lot about the art of the possible with sensors and why most simple step counters and other sensors being used in wearable products just don't deliver the value without proper in-context analysis and of course the UI to produce a genuinely valuable user experience.
if it's temperature and humidity that is needed, than another sensor company at MWC, Sensirion caught my eye as experts in this area. The tiny speck of s sensor pointed out in the picture is all it takes to add those parameters to the context needed to figure out what is going on. This wonderfully scientific and geeky looking sample they gave me adds battery and display to their tiny sensor to make it useful. Since your mobile phone and most wearable devices already have these, all you need is the sensor.
The Martian Watches table at the Pepcom Press event was a breath of fresh air from all the large, geeky/ugly "wearable technology" watches I have seen at CES and MWC.
I have often thought that devout watch wearers these days are sporting normal looking analogue watches and rather than replace it with a watch trying to be a mobile phone, it would make sense to add a few discreet features to a normal looking phone. Martian seems to have made that their key differentiator.
Various watch configurations include a small display, hands free voice capability to keep your phone in your pocket, some voice command recognition and vibration alerts. Discussions with Martian president Stanley Kinsey revealed a high degree of user experience saavy evidenced in the clever use of coded vibration alerts and other features to keep you on top of things without visibly seeming to be constantly at the beck and call of external forces. It's worth watching these guys, and soon might the exclusive high priced watch brands take this type of connectivity on board without spoiling "the look" of their luxury brand?
There was a well produced and very entertaining fashion show at CES this year focused on wearable technology. Many things caught my eye, but the emphasis was much more on fashion than than utility and consumer technology for my liking. Of course all the clothing that sparkled and garments with screens built in so that they could be whatever they wanted to be fit the occasion very well and was entertaining.
Next year I would like to see business and lifestyle enhancing technology blending in or invisibly being worn on the catwalk with descriptions of super powers and augmentations that happen without it being glaringly obvious. And where were all the Smart Glasses? Well, I just don't think Smart Glasses are ready for the catwalk yet. Maybe next year? This is the year of industrial and professional applications for these. Small enough to wear, but still a bit too big to wear out.