Imagine a future where we can blend the physical and digital worlds to transform how we interact with the environment around us. That future is actually already here - we are on the cusp of the age of Augmented Reality (AR), with applications limited only by our imagination.
The tipping point is obvious, with the recent craze over Pokemon Go that has taken the world by storm. Augmented reality has made its way into the consumer market and is being understood and more importantly, used by everyday people. The future seems bright.
According to a recently published study by Juniper Research, the overall market for AR and wearables could reach as much as five to six billion U.S. dollars within the next five to six years.
Today, industry and businesses are driving innovation in the worlds of AR and wearables. Already, AR is helping to train engineers and doctors, enhance visitor experience at museums and art galleries and accelerate learning, both in the classroom and in the pilot’s cockpit.
And in the medical world, universities and teaching hospitals are using AR to enhance anatomy classes, adding details layer-by-layer, or focusing on specific organs of the body.
Indeed, it is a growing trend and a recent report from Beecham Research states that the greatest opportunities for growth lie in the manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and retail sectors.
The perfect combination for the ultimate visual experience - Delivering augmented reality through smart glasses
Bringing AR technology to smart glasses presents an entirely new dimension of delivering content and brings visual communications to a whole new level by improving the way we work. Smart glasses are used to overlay digital contextual information onto a real-world scenario, delivering a part-real part-virtual user experience. The combination of AR with smart glasses can bring transformative experiences not only for entertainment usages, but also provides for hands-free work purposes, impacting industries such as tourism, training, education and healthcare to deliver services and improve productivity in ways that previously remained in the realm of science fiction.
Epson’s smart glasses technology under the Moverio brand is already using AR to enhance the value that visitors and students derive from important cultural heritage sites - visitors to the 2,000 year old Roman city of Brescia, for example, are able to experience the site in an interactive way, observing 3D reconstructions of the monuments as if they were actually there, more than 2,000 years ago.
Training and Education
AR with smart glasses also holds the potential to transform the way we learn. AR smart glasses are ideally suited to the more effective learning environment of the 21st
century, where learners can be hands-free so that they can be hands-on. For example, there is a Moverio application that allows students to observe stereoscopic molecular structures of elements from the Periodic Table, offering a unique way of teaching and learning from an entirely new perspective.
Mekorot, the Israeli national water company, has trialed an AR system using Epson’s Moverio smart glasses that supports its maintenance engineers carrying out dangerous high voltage fieldwork. The system uses smart glasses to project the equipment blueprint and maintenance steps to be undertaken directly in the engineers’ field of vision, enabling them to work accurately and freely with both hands.
AR is finding a natural home in the field of healthcare, where attention to detail and subject matter expertise are critically important. In this area, AR developer CN2 has introduced an application called “Visualizing the Future” that uses Epson’s wearable technology to familiarize medical staff with the use of an advanced single collection chest drainage system.
Ultimate drone flying experience
Not only can a pair of smart glasses provide for an exhilarating drone flight experience via a second screen First Person View, its see-through advantage also maintains the line of sight of the drone, enabling users a fully unimpeded view. Users no longer need to constantly look up at the drone and down at the tablet screen showing the camera feed.
Various sensors like the GPS, compasses or camera sensors from the smart glasses also give rise to the application of AR onto drones. In addition to providing a First Person View, directional instructions overlaid onto the user’s line of sight also greatly enhance the drone flying experience, giving an added dimension to flying for play or for work.
Epson’s Moverio smart glasses are leading the way in this area. Benchmark standards of wearer comfort, display technology, camera quality and control simplicity make operating drones safer, simpler and more productive.
Possibilities are endless
How we interact with computers is going to change dramatically. The predominant human-computer interface today, in mobile computing, is the touchscreen. The promise of AR, along with wearable technology, is a hands-free computing environment enabling greater interaction with information and the user’s surroundings.
According to the Beecham report, we can anticipate rapid evolution of smart glasses, with more miniaturisation, better field of view and battery life. There is also likely to be increasing convergence between augmented reality technology and the Internet of Things – delivering competitive advantage to first movers.
It can be expected that the consumer market will follow the same arc as smartphones. As soon as there are standardized designs for smart glasses and they become easier to use, they will go mainstream. Interest will grow exponentially among all consumer groups - not just the tech savvy individuals, but everyone.
From industrial and enterprise applications to 3D gaming, the possibilities for augmented reality on smart glasses are truly endless. The purely physical world we are accustomed to is about to undergo significant change, and Epson’s cutting edge technology is sure to keep Moverio out ahead in this brave new world.