Wearables

What Google Glass might have been: Epson showcases the new Moverio BT-300 smart specs

What Google Glass might have b...
Epson's new augmented reality glasses are lighter and more powerful than ever
Epson's new augmented reality glasses are lighter and more powerful than ever
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The Moverio BT-300 glasses go on sale later this year
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The Moverio BT-300 glasses go on sale later this year
Epson has been giving MWC attendees the chance to try out the augmented reality tech
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Epson has been giving MWC attendees the chance to try out the augmented reality tech
One app demo shows restricted areas for drone flights
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One app demo shows restricted areas for drone flights
The BT-300 smart glasses could also enhance your next museum tour
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The BT-300 smart glasses could also enhance your next museum tour
Epson's new augmented reality glasses are lighter and more powerful than ever
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Epson's new augmented reality glasses are lighter and more powerful than ever
The accompanying wireless remote allows you to control the device
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The accompanying wireless remote allows you to control the device
The camera gets a bump to 5 megapixels
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The camera gets a bump to 5 megapixels
The Moverio BT-300 glasses go on sale later this year
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The Moverio BT-300 glasses go on sale later this year
Drone pilots are one group of people Epson is targeting
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Drone pilots are one group of people Epson is targeting
Epson has been giving MWC attendees the chance to try out the augmented reality tech
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Epson has been giving MWC attendees the chance to try out the augmented reality tech

Epson has brought a new and improved version of its Moverio smart glasses to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, offering significantly improved display technology and a lighter frame for all your augmented reality (AR) needs. We dropped by the Epson booth for a first-hand look at the Moverio BT-300.

Amid all the excitement surrounding virtual reality, don't forget the augmented version too, where computer graphics and projections are overlaid on top of (and respond to) objects in the real world. Microsoft's HoloLens is one example of the technology in action, and Google Glass may have eventually gone there as well had it continued to evolve. Glass as we knew it was just a floating a 2D notification center off to the side of your field of view, but Epson is aiming to outdo that.

Where Glass was designed to be worn on a regular basis, the Moverio is more for specific purposes, such as museum tours, exploring venues, retail experiences and medical procedures. Imagine seeing a rolling landscape as you cycle on your exercise bike, for example, or having a map of restricted zones or directions float in front of your eyes while you're sending your drone up into the skies.

The camera gets a bump to 5 megapixels
The camera gets a bump to 5 megapixels

Traditionally the Moverio has been aimed at people in the workplace (training mechanics, assisting doctors, providing visualizations for construction workers and so on), but Epson seems increasingly keen to market these devices to consumers too. This time last year the company said it had shifted "tens of thousands" of its Moverio BT-200 glasses, and now the BT-300 upgrade has arrived.

The headline feature is a new Si-OLED (silicon-based Organic Light Emitting Diode) 720p display, replacing the qHD TFT LCD display of its predecessor and projecting sharper images and more vibrant colors in front of your eyes. These new glasses are also 20 percent lighter than the BT-200 models they're replacing, which should make for a more comfortable wearing experience over longer periods of time. Oh, and the device can take photos and videos too, thanks to an integrated 5-megapixel camera (another upgrade over the BT-200).

We spent a few minutes testing out the Moverio BT-300 smart glasses at the Fira Gran Via venue in Barcelona and came away very impressed. The projected images, whether showing text or pictures, were very sharp and clear. The headset was light enough not to be a nuisance and we wouldn't expect you'd have any problem wearing these glasses all day if necessary. We didn't notice any lag or stuttering either, thanks in part to the newly-upgraded Intel Atom chipset and Android 5.1 OS inside the specs.

The BT-300 smart glasses could also enhance your next museum tour
The BT-300 smart glasses could also enhance your next museum tour

Epson's demos covered a painting that became animated, a drone pilot simulation and an object recognition app that brings up extra information about whatever your eyes are pointing toward. It's apps like these, whether from Epson or third-party developers, that are going to be crucial in tempting consumers to stump up for a pair of BT-300 glasses – otherwise they'll stay stuck in businesses and museum tours for the time being.

The Moverio BT-300 smart glasses go on sale later this year and you can pre-order a pair now from the Epson site for US$799.

Product page: Epson

3 comments
zevulon
was not impressed with the bt 200 half a year ago. most likely AR is going to be a far harder nut to crack than VR. why? because AR is trying to layer over an experience of perfect imerssion we call 'reality'. vr is just shaping its own 'reality' for which you to submerge yourself in. ar is naturally an interference with your field of vision and your brain knows this quite clearly. this is why every AR conference or event you go to consistently features speakers who emphasize that it is for 'industrial' purposes and commercial usage. becasuee there is nothign entertaining about AR and nothing that consumers would really appreciate with the current technology. of course, just as with google glass, there will always be a few paid spokespersons and sponsored content telling you hwo much consumers will love it, but , just like with 3d printers, they won't. it's , at best, a tool for tinkerers, and hoped for industrial/commercial users. at worst, it proves itself pretty useless for all but government sponsored projects like military and space. meaning it's still essentially in prolonged r&d phase.
phissith
Recently watched The 6th Days and this is just like the movie.
JagtygerII
The biggest market that I see for AR would be military heads up displays for the average ground soldier. with something like this, they could see enhanced battlefield data from a variety of sources, including their own weapon and members of their fire team; as well as satellite imagery.