Lenovo eyes off AR smart glasses for business use
Smart glasses once seemed like a gadget our future selves wouldn't be able to go without, but since Google Glass tripped over its own awkward feet, they've mostly retreated from the public eye and switched focus to niche applications. Now Lenovo has set its sights on the augmented reality eyewear arena, with a business customer-focused pair of smart specs it calls New Glass C200.
Google Glass may be the most well-known piece of head-mounted AR gear, but others, including Motorola and Sony, have tried their hands at it. Others have focused on specific users: the ADAMAAS aimed to help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks, and the Golden-i headsets were designed for industry and first responders. Lenovo's New Glass C200 seems to be targeting a similar type of commercial-use audience.
To that end, the company's suggestions for how to use the device include collaborating with remote co-workers, snapping photos and recording video in 1080p, and following step-by-step instructions projected right in front of a user's eye.
The device itself is made up of two separate parts that communicate with each other through a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connection. Weighing less than 60 g (2 oz) and powered by the Linux OS, the Glass Unit wraps around a user's head and holds a small screen in front of their right eye that can display content-specific information. The brains of the operation comes from the Pocket Unit, which can be kept (you guessed it) in a pocket or affixed to a belt. This unit also plugs into a smartphone for extra processing oomph through the New Glass app.
To help out on the software side of things, Lenovo has developed an AI called NBD Martin, which uses a neural network type of intelligence to identify what the glasses are looking at. Apparently the system can recognize 20 different types of objects, and by analyzing the data from the camera and other sensors, Martin can act like an AI assistant, bringing up relevant information to get a specific task done.
AR assets can be created through Lenovo's new visual editing software, NBD Titan. It's designed to be easy for non-developers to use, allowing the average user to build virtual environments and objects and see how they look when laid over the real world. Interior designers, for example, could create wild designs while keeping one eye on the space they have to work with.
Lenovo is presenting the New Glass C200 at CES this week, and while there's no word yet on availability for business customers (let alone a more general consumer release), the company expects the device to go into mass production in June.