Epson is going after Google with its own heads-up display glasses. The Moverio BT-200 is a head-controlled device with a screen that overlays a transparent computer monitor in the center of the user’s field of vision. The clunky, conspicuous form factor is mainly designed for enterprises, such as allowing assembly line workers to scan UPC codes automatically and get real-time inventory by looking around the room.
Smart glass software developer APX, which originally designed the device’s Skylight operating system, is partnering with Epson for their projector manufacturing prowess. “These glasses are essentially two small LCD projectors,” says Anna Jen, Epson’s Director of New Ventures (demo below).
The device itself works smoothly. I demoed a gaming application, where I had to look around the room for virtual white “beacons”. To upgrade my video game motorcycle with turrets, I centered my field of vision over the white lights situated at eye level. It’s not a fully immersive experience, but it gets the job done for highlighting areas in the center field of vision.
To be sure, these uber-nerdy glasses aren’t for wearing on a date. “The average use case for consumers to wear smart glasses out and about isn’t there yet,” explains Brian Ballard, CEO of APX Labs. “You have to have a certain sex appeal.” In other words, smart glasses are only ready for social environments where our peers expect us to be wearing them.
APX wasn’t allowed to say who their current partners are, but acknowledged that “household names” in the Fortune 500 are currently testing out units. Perhaps more exciting, Moverio or a smart glass could be coming to a major sports stadium, which plans to give fans a futuristic entertainment experience. “Instead of you going to a sports game and looking at your phone, you’re able to keep your focus on the game, like real time stats and replays.”
APX let me know about the future sports partnership by not denying it wasn’t happening. So, hopefully we’ll get to have a good sports experience soon.
Epson demoed a previous version of these glasses last spring. Epson will sell the updated Moverio BT-200 directly (and through Amazon) for $699 starting in March.