Augmented Reality is something many have tried, but only a few have delivered. One company that have a real, product in the market for sale, is Epson.
For around a thousand bucks, you (or your business) can buy the BT-300/350 AR glasses (full specs here). This morning I had the opportunity to try them out with some very nice Mercedes performance vehicles.
The demo app (developed by Apperation using Unity) recognised circular tags placed on a couple of the vehicles at the event. Sitting inside the A250, the tags were placed around the interior. The glasses recognised each of these tags and provided information about components you were looking at. The idea here being that AR glasses, could replace the user manual.
While this demo used the tags, after chatting to the app developer, he explained they could do it using object recognition with the right dataset. Given every vehicle developed these days is first modeled in 3D, auto makers would have the data necessary to provide to an AR platform to achieve this futuristic user manual. While this contained just text overlays to the real world, it’s easy to see how this gets extended more detailed animations or explanations of how things are operated.
The next vehicle, the amazing AMG GTR, had 2 tags on the outside of the vehicle, one on the bonnet and one of the massive carbon fibre rear wing. Scanning the tag on the bonnet, a 3D model of the engine appeared and as you moved around, it remained in place, hovering above the vehicle. The included controller for the smart glasses allows the user to navigate to zoom buttons to get even closer to the engine components. Obviously you normally don’t get to see an engine moving, so this technology is neat in terms of sales, providing the engine output figures, the number of cylinders and more.
Scanning the rear wing tag, launched an experience where a full 3D model of the car was shown. You could select the colour of the car and naturally this leads you to think about a virtual showroom experience from home.
BT-350 Smart Glasses
While there were 5 or 6 pars of the BT300 glasses on show today, there was on set that was different, the BT-350s that feature a completely different hinge design. This aims to better accommodate people with glasses.
I’m told the displays were higher quality than the BT-300 so naturally I tried them. While I thought the actual resolution remains at 1280×720 per eye, the image was definitely clearer and supports a better field of view.
I was able to launch another demo application on these glasses, that was the 360 camera view on the front of the Mercedes F1 car. This is available on YouTube, but having the experience in front of you be controlled by the turn of your head with a 1:1 mapping to the camera is a great experience.
Overall the glasses show real promise for a company that is known for printers and projectors, but is clearly refocusing the company for the future with big efforts in display technologies of all kinds.
Now enjoy a gallery from the event.