There is little doubt that the world of wearable technology is fast approaching a reality. With watches getting smarter, fitness products at every turn and the much hyped “Google Glass” coming to a geek near you, there is no stopping this radical shift in the way we use technology. Epson have a product called the Moverio BT-100 that shows just what might be possible.
Google Glass is dominating the headlines when it comes to wearing something that allows you to “see” your messages, augmented reality and much more – but Epson have had the Moverio BT-100 for over a year now in the market, and as a first generation product it is very much a public “proof of concept”
These are huge, bulky – dare I say ugly glasses which have a clear lens across the front allowing you see the world as you normally would, however the lens is around 8mm thick and embedded within it is some projection trickery from the folks at Epson. You literally have what is most recognisable as a mobile phone screen super-imposed in your field of view.
Hanging behind your head from the ends of the glasses is a cable attached to what is for all that it’s worth an Android mobile phone without a SIM card or screen – the screen is in your glasses.
The small controller unit runs Android 2.2 and has on the front a touchpad and four axis key for navigation.
Using android with a touchpad that is not the screen is complex to get your head around – difficult to say the least.
For $749 you’d have to really know what you wanted before shelling out the cash direct to Epson – these are not available in any retailer in Australia. That itself proves the limited concept that this is. So – what’s it all about?
This is generation one. What matters more is what developers can come up with as ideas, and what Epson engineers can do to miniaturise this whole setup.
Already there are kickstarter ideas to add cameras and augmented reality to this technology and Epson say there are plenty of keen users coming up with ideas for this first and future generations of the concept.
For me, they were a fun gimmick. I was able to watch YouTube clips on the lounge while the kids played games or did craft – with headphones in they were not distracted by my videos – yet all the while I could see them clearly through my glasses. That’s about the only thing I could see myself doing.
I also loaded webpages while watching TV – talk about second screen! But the lack of a keyboard or optional input meant the trackpad typing was a long and boring chore.
The final kick in the teeth for this device is the lack of the Android Market or Google Play – so you’re left with a browser and photo/movie browsing app and not much more.
I was able to install the Amazon App marketplace but couldn’t get any apps to install. Android 2.2 is just too old to get any decent app support.
So what’s it all mean for the future of this technology?
Well – how exciting this is! Bring the size down, improve the interface and you’ve got something great to add value to what you’re doing. With a camera on top you can see gesture control and augmented reality taking huge steps forward.
But – you’ll always be the weirdo talking to himself or zoned out of the conversation going on around you.
Epson are open about their excitement around version 2 of the Moverio, and frankly they are perfectly placed to take advantage of the continuing hype that Google is creating around their Glass product so it’s going to be an interesting couple of years ahead in the world of wearable technology.
Top marks to Epson for developing in this space, but save yourself the money until version 2 hits town.
Web: Epson Australia