AR Eyewear for the Enterprise
AR eyewear is a nifty piece of technology that can streamline many aspects of your business. It’s a great way to increase quality control, improve maintenance, reduce costs, and provide remote assistance, among other things.
While the concept is still relatively new, there are a few pairs on the market that can give you a taste of the tech’s capabilities. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Ar eyewear, a form of smart glasses that combine augmented reality with voice-activation, is a promising technology for both business and personal use. Its use in enterprise environments is often based on security, privacy and the ability to integrate with modern mobile device management (MDM) systems.
Vuzix Blade is a pair of wearable augmented reality smart glasses that run on Android and sync with Alexa, the voice-activation platform owned by Amazon. It has a powerful Android processor, see-through waveguide optics, an 8-megapixel camera and noise-cancelling microphones.
The right side of the glasses houses a touch surface, similar to Google Glass, that allows you to swipe backward and forward to navigate through an app or select items. It also has motion sensors for maintaining a clear image and haptic motors to vibrate alerts.
You can also play a variety of AR-based games on the Blade’s display, including Dino Hunt, which projects a pre-Cambrian jungle with dinosaurs scurrying around, and Racer, where you can navigate a car track with guardrails. While these games aren’t yet at the level of smartphone gaming, they are fun and offer some unique features.
While Blade has its limitations, it’s still a useful tool for frontline workers, especially those who don’t have access to smartphones. It helps employees keep their eyes on the task at hand and communicate with other workers in a simple, hands-free manner.
One of the biggest strengths of the Blade is that it supports the transfer of photos and videos to a PC via USB. This makes it easy to store and share your favorite memories. However, it’s not yet possible to share text or PDF files on the Blade; a future version of the device should address this issue.
The Blade also has a built-in 8-megapixel camera, which is great for capturing and sharing images. It can even record video, which can be transferred to a smartphone or computer.
It also has Bluetooth and a MicroUSB charging port, as well as Wi-Fi and a microSD card slot for storage. You can also control the Blade from a companion app, which is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
While the Blade’s display isn’t quite as sharp as other AR glasses, it doesn’t have any problems viewing a variety of content. Its 480-pixel x 853-pixel display is bright enough to show the details of most pictures and videos.
Another plus is the Blade’s battery life. It’s relatively long-lasting and can easily handle all day use.
Vuzix is one of the leaders in augmented reality eyewear and has a lot of great features that could make its glasses a must-have for many consumers. It’s just a matter of whether the company can shake its enterprise roots and produce glasses that are fashionable or blend into the crowd.
The North Focals is a pair of augmented reality smart glasses from the Canadian company formerly known as Thalmic Labs. Unlike Google Glass, the Focals don’t have a screen, but instead rely on a micro-projector that beams an image onto a holographic film that appears at arm’s length in front of the wearer.
The Focals use a ring that sits on the index finger of the user’s dominant hand to control ar eyewear the device. Its small joystick allows the wearer to navigate menus and click through messages or text threads, as well as interact with turn-by-turn navigation. It also features a custom version of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant that wakes up when you give her a voice command.
There are also a number of apps built for Focals, including ones for weather, a fitness tracker, and language lessons. There’s even Digital Health, a program that caters to the growing focus on managing time spent on smartphones.
In general, the Focals look surprisingly good, and if you don’t notice them, passersby may never know that they’re actually smart glasses. The frames are made from die-cast aluminum and a strong polymer called Swiss Grilamid.
If you want a pair of custom-fitted Focals, you need to make an appointment at a North store. They take a series of measurements using 11 cameras, which then creates a 3D model of your head and face.
Those are used to help the manufacturer produce the correct size of customized Focals that will fit your head and face. They ship the custom-fitted pair of glasses to you within a few weeks.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Focals’ fit, especially since the first round of them had such a bad reputation. They’re not as comfortable to wear all day as a regular pair of glasses, but they are pretty comfortable after a few hours of use.
You can find a pair of Focals in tortoise-shell, grey and black colors. The lenses are curved and include anti-reflective, scratch-resistant and water repellant coatings as well as UV protection.
The Focals are also available in clip-on sunglasses, which is handy if you need to see clearly in bright conditions or just prefer the classic look of a pair of glasses. The battery case, however, is a bit bulky and feels like it’s covered in felt rather than just a matte plastic.
While the Focals are not yet a mass-market product, they have helped to crystalize just what is possible in a pair of smart glasses that can compete with Apple’s Spectacles. The second generation of the device, to be released in 2020, should further refine the form-factor and add new features that will appeal to a wider audience.
Tooz Technologies is a company based in Germany that focuses on developing technologies and production processes for complete smart glass solutions geared toward the end consumer market. Their goal is to provide customers with affordable, scalable and high-quality optical prescription solutions that work with various frame designs.
Tooz has developed a curved waveguide lens for augmented reality and virtual reality glasses, which enables a full color VR screen without sacrificing unobtrusiveness and eye protection. The curved waveguide also reduces weight and makes the glasses comfortable to wear for an extended period of time.
The company was founded in 2014 with the mission of developing an optic model that could be molded from a scalable manufacturing process. The goal was to prove that a curved waveguide could be manufactured in a process that uses injection molding, the type of process used for producing parts in large volume.
To achieve this, tooz partnered with Jade Bird Display, a leading manufacturer in the development and mass-production of microLED displays. This collaboration has led to the development of a new optical engine that works with the curved waveguide, allowing users to see a full-color VR screen while keeping their glasses slim and lightweight.
Another key aspect of tooz’s design is a foldable form factor, which helps save space when storing the glasses and making them easy to take with you on trips or outings. This feature is called TRUFOLD technology, and tooz explains that it allows the glasses to be folded into a compact shape when not in use.
Tooz has also developed a curved ophthalmic lens that contains the waveguide, incoupling ar eyewear surface and the prescription layer in one monolithic piece. This design means that the entire optical system can be adapted easily in Rx labs around the world according to international ophthalmic standards.
Finally, tooz has developed a world-first in SWAP technology that allows the lenses of their glasses to be swapped independently and at any point of sale. This allows the customer to change their diopter or choose a fashionable tinted or mirrored lens style.
ZEISS has acquired tooz technologies, a 50-50 joint venture between Carl Zeiss and Deutsche Telekom, in 2018. It’s the first step in establishing tooz as Zeiss’ AR/VR competence center for glasses with prescription vision correction and based on novel curved waveguides.
Kai Stroder, CEO of tooz, will be discussing the origin story of tooz and the challenges of developing cost-effective AR/VR solutions in a panel discussion at SPIE Photonics West this week. He will share tooz’s go-to-market strategy, which focuses on the size of the glasses and affordability.