In our last 10 top Augmented Reality apps post, we eluded that our 2014 predictions for Augmented Reality trends have become surprisingly real – especially the trend in Augmented Reality wearables such as goggles and other heads-up displays. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are becoming both more accessible and more mainstream as I type. Here is a list of what we think are the most useful AR and VR wearables to emerge this year.
This is a beautiful integration of AR into a training and practice module. Mimic Simulation has created a tool to teach new surgeons without the need or expense of animals, cadavers, expensive surgical tools or practice rooms. The Mimic Sim AR Surgeon allows new and career surgeons to practice their skills using recorded successful surgeries as the basis for the training. In providing global access to world class training for surgeons, this innovative application of AR technology and the Augmented Reality gear itself has world-changing potential and was awarded the top spot in our Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality headgear-to-watch list.
The Augmented Reality Smart Helmet from DAQRI is designed for use by engineers, construction workers and others who work in industrial environments. The hands-free headset is embedded in a hard hat. Developed to improve communication, safety, and productivity at worksites. the Smart Helmet uses Augmented Reality to superimpose instructions and other digital content against real-world industrial equipment. It is also designed to enable an easy transfer of data between people working on and off site, reducing building timelines and budgets.
Microsoft isn’t new to wearables and head-up displays. They first published a patent application for Augmented Reality glasses in 2012 and another for a hands-free AR gaming system the same year. However, their recent acquisition of a $150 million military technology company specializing in head-up displays means that they’ll likely be coming to market with a consumer HUD sooner rather than later. Though no official design has been released or product announcement made for Microsoft’s Augmented Reality headset, there is a lot of chatter about it in the marketplace. Unlike Google Glass, the rumored headset looks more like a traditional pair of Oakley-style sunglasses and has no forward facing camera, a stigmatized feature that has been difficult for Glass to overcome in daily use scenarios. It will also likely be connected to next-generation Kinect, Xbox and other Microsoft hardware experiences.
Pinlight is the love child of gaming graphic giant NVIDIA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a paper first presented at SIGGRAPH 2014, the first LCD based glass device is described as being lighter and using simpler technology than comparable AR headsets. Using much different technology than Google Glass, Pinlight glasses are devised of a LCD panel and an array of point-light sources implemented as an edge-lit, etched acrylic sheet that is placed directly in front of the eye. The main goal of this joint venture is create a light weight, energy efficient, and larger display wearable computer. To that we say, “Yes, please.”
The sleek Sony SmartEyeglass is a unique entry into head-up displays. Unlike many other headsets that try to squeeze everything into the glasses themselves, SmartEyeglass offers binocular see-through eyewear with a wired controller. The controller connects to compatible smartphones via Bluetooth. Similarly to Google Glass, the clear-lensed eyewear superimposes content layers such as notifications and other relevant information on top of real visual content within the wearer’s natural field of vision. In designing apps for SmartEyeglass, developers can choose to leverage features such as a built-in accelerometer, gyro, electronic compass, brightness sensor, microphones and a built in camera. We’re not so sure about the wired controller, but expect that Sony has good reason for taking this approach in the short term and that future generations of SmartEyeglass will probably abandon it.
We’re big fans of motorcycle safety and so there is a special place in our list for the Skully AR-1 Augmented Reality motorcycle helmet, billed as the world’s smartest motorcycle helmet. The first head-up display system available for a motorcycle helmet, the Skully AR-1 includes features such as a rear view camera, speedometer, and a GPS with turn-by-turn directions. The helmet responds to voice commands and syncs to smartphone apps for playing music and making phone calls. The 180-degree rear facing camera that eliminates blind spots makes this HUD a superstar. If you ride a motorcycle, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
For a mere $200 plus the cost of a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, the Samsung Gear VR is an exciting entry into the Virtual Reality head-up display market. The Gear VR uses Oculus VR technology and requires a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to work. Samsung is looking to connect with consumers who are looking for enhanced mobile entertainment experiences. With an affordable price tag and a 96 degree viewing angle, the Gear VR’s mega screen promises a new level of mobile entertainment when paired with exclusive cinema, game and 360 degree experience content. The headset accounts for farsighted and nearsightedness as well as providing 3D Spatial Sound for VR Gallery content.
For the DIY crowd, Google has come up with a way to bring VR to the masses via pizza boxes. Intended as a DIY Virtual Reality solution, Google Cardboard is a series of directions for making Android smartphone compatible VR glasses of readily available components such as cardboard and velcro. Kits can also be purchased and range in price from $8.99 to $34.99. Google has released a Google Cardboard software development kit (SDK) as well to encourage the growth and adoption of VR technologies through Android-exclusive content. If you’re curious about VR and own an Android, Google Cardboard is a great place to start.
Touted as a way to “become Iron Man in real life,” the $3000 metaPro head-up display has been covered by Forbes Magazine as a meaningful competitor to Google Glass. When wearing the device, a single cord runs down the wearer’s back and plugs into a mini computer that can be stored in a pocket and which stores the processing power and wireless connectivity for the glasses. Meta Pro will likely drop the pocket computer and eventually become completely contained within the headset. With many times the resolution of Google Glass, a stylish profile and its use of Augmented Reality-fueled gesture recognition, Meta Pro is definitely going to be a contender for a top spot in the AR/VR HUD space in the year ahead.
Airbus was recently granted a patent for an in-flight VR headrest that promises multi-sensory experiences, 3D in-flight movies, music, gaming and productivity. According to Wired, the helmet could even pipe in different odors for an olfactory treat. Who doesn’t want to magically transport themselves out of a crummy economy seat into a first-class media experience. A ventilated helmet that blocks out the sounds of crying babies, annoying conversations and rank odors? Sign us up.
Marxent has extensive experience in developing Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality apps for catalogs, live events, trade shows, sales tools and training. If you have questions about AR or VR apps for business, call 727-851-9522 to speak with an Augmented Reality consultant or email us. We will get back to you in a jiffy.
Virtual Reality is constantly changing and there is much to learn. Here is a supplemental list of VR/AR resources for you to enjoy and share.
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