UPCOMING TECHNOLOGY – What is Augmented reality? It is a technology aimed to enrich the experience and interaction with real life environment. An augmented reality device would produce computer generated layers of graphics and information over what you would see in the real world. It’s just like the scene from Minority Report. “Oh cool! That’s like the Virtual Reality thingy, right?”. Augmented reality is NOT virtual reality. Virtual reality is where your vision is completely surrounded by a computer simulated environment. Just you finding yourself completely inside a video game world. There is a subtle difference between the two. But I digress. This article will talk about a number of ‘augmented reality’ computing devices announced in recent times; what seem like high-tech accessories from sci-fi themes, but are powerful-wearable computers in reality. Each of the following devices have been made with certain type of users in mind, and they are potent enough find a warm place in the consumer industry.
The makers of Golden-i call it a headset than an eyewear. But structurally, it can be thought of as a combination of both. Golden-i simply a USB, Camera, phone, Wi-Fi and bluetooth enabled computer with a near-eye heads-up display (HUD) and speakers. It runs on Windows CE operating system and is driven by user’s voice commands. The device is also powered with a head-tracking functionality. So when Golden-i is connected to a camera located elsewhere, the user can easily look around those corners by manipulating the viewing angle of the camera. Golden-i is specifically meant for heavy and light industry professions like for instance – fire fighters, security personnel and even health care. It’s said to release this year, in 2013, with a price tag of $2,500 (₹1,25,000).
Google Glass is probably the most talked about product after their search engine. They recently released a breathtaking video showcasing the Glass in action. You can take photographs, shoot videos, make phone calls, text, search, remind you of events, guide you through locations, etceteras – all of it with a simple voice command, at any moment. The device is connected to Google servers and all of the interactions will be communicated with Google’s cloud (privacy concerns?). While using the glass, you can scroll up and down on the software window on the heads-up display, just by tilting your head. Mind that Google glass works independently as a standalone device, but additionally, it can tether to an iPhone and Android too.
Google Glass is expected to release by the end of 2013 for consumers. Yes! You can very soon move around wearing a smartphone on your face! Currently, Google glass is currently selling exclusively for developers for a price of $1,500 (approximately ₹75, 000). Google has promised the final consumer version to be significantly cheaper.
Microsoft’s own HUD glasses
Microsoft had filed a patent for it’s own idea of HUD glasses as per the news in late 2012. There isn’t any official information about this product, it’s target users or it’s functions. Speculations are that the device could probably be to improve their Gaming console’s experience. However, it’s sure that Microsoft is definitely cooking something on the lines of augmented reality. We’ll have to wait and watch on this one.
VuZix Smartglasses M100
The Vuzix M100 appears like an elongated bluetooth device, but contains a virtual display with an integrated camera (capable of recording at 720p), bluetooth, Wi-fi, GPS, Accelerometer and a 16:9 aspect ratio with WQVGA display. The device is quite powerful too. It packs a 1GHz OMAP4430 processor, 4GB of flash storage and 1GB of RAM. The device primarily runs on Android OS 4.0 (ICS) and can connect to a secondary iOS and Android device wirelessly. So while the device is connected to a secondary device, the user can perform all major functions through the M100 like texting, making phone calls, shooting videos, etceteras. Wait what? Doesn’t all of this sound similar to Google glass? Though it does, unless Google actually reveals it’s hardware specs and more importantly, unless both of these devices are out in the market, it’s quite hard to tell if they are really similar. VuZix M100 is meant for general consumers and professionals. The M100 is scheduled for commercial release in late 2013. It is said to be around $500 (₹25,000)
Pranav Mistry’s Sixth Sense – What happened?
Remember Pranav Mistry and his Sixth Sense project? Some of us may not know that the project isn’t really a message of an upcoming product, but only a concept. The concept is fabulous, but far fetched and a bit ahead of the time. Some of the current hardware technologies are not evolved enough to complete the exact product. It’s being said that Microsoft will use a part of Pranav Mistry’s project in it’s upcoming HUD glass. If you want to know more on the whereabouts about this project, head over to an interesting discussion at Quora.
Oculus Rift is a gaming accessory. If the rumours about the Microsoft’s HUD glasses being a gaming device hold true, that both of these could stand on a competing position. We recently covered an article titled ‘Leap Motion And Oculus Rift – Augmented Reality, Now And The Future‘.
Motorola HC1 is on the same lines as the Golden-i. Interestingly, Motorola had initially collaborated with Golden-i, but now they have brought out their own device. Full details and specs about the HC1. The device is priced around $4,000 – $5,000 (₹2,00,000 – ₹2,50,000).