Augmented Reality (AR) requires many forms. It is a tool which permits people to see things and hear things that actually fortify add or - to - fact. Like the smartphone in our pocket, AR makes it better, faster, and smarter. AR comes in all sizes and flavors. Mobile AR is sexy right now because everybody has a smartphone in their pocket. But mobile AR is in its infancy.
The most common kind of Augmented Reality, the one that's transforming business and generating billions will be based on a little cheap LCOS display (Liquid Crystal On Silicon) that sits comfortably on the border of the users' eyesight, providing un-obtrusive access to your video screen about 1 inch in the eye. In production and warehousing the microdisplay, controlled with a mixture of voice, gesture, and ring, screens schematics, and other data so workers no longer have to time shift between newspaper diagrams or a notebook or handle a handheld RFID reader.
The holy grail of all AR is best extracted from the Ambitions of Magic Leap, a multi-billion dollar startup backed by the largest technology, entertainment, and venture capital companies in the world, isn't to set a television on your face. It's to integrate the real world using the electronics in a more discreet way. We're seeing stirring of this in cellular AR once the camera has come to be the interface. With depth and surface detection, together with fresh specialized mapping, computer vision makes it possible for the real and digital to mingle, and items to stay anchored in space, waiting to be shown. This has generated amazing and profitable games, like Pokemon Go (2 billion dollars in sales and still counting). The value of the outside of games has not yet been determined. The potential is huge. Nevertheless, the actual money, countless billions, is in the boring, decidedly unsexy microdisplay, produced from Kopin, RealWear, Google, ODG, Epson, along with Vuzix. The use of those devices in manufacturing is exploding. Toshiba just jumped in with its own supplying. No one knows if microdisplay-based AR could possibly catch on with consumers, and at this point, most of the business think of it as an afterthought anyway.
Brian Ballard, CEO of Upskill, which offers the applications for a lot of these monocular AR techniques, explained in a meeting Friday, April 27, that just about everyone in production and warehousing is switching - or intending to change - into these kinds of monocular LCOS Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) to enhance their own systems. All these HMDs are decidedly not trendy, but they are light and easy to use. Many attach to safety glasses, helmets, and hats which employees already wear. "The time saved by maintaining the workers' hands-free drops directly to the bottom line," Ballard explained. "Some workers have difficulty adjusting at first, but if it requires a day or per week they ultimately adopt it as it makes their task easier, and simpler" Upskill reports it helped Boeing reduce wiring time at some aircraft by 30%.
Forrester predicts that by 2025 there will be 14M Intelligent eyeglasses in the workplace. IDC predicts this is a 48 BN marketplace. Although some of those devices, such as the real war and ODG, run the Android operating system, most, like the newest Toshiba AR-100, which is tethered to pocket-size dynaEdge PC. are complete windows devices. Carl Pinto, Vice-President of Marketing and Engineering at Toshiba, told me the company is expecting to get 10,000 units into the area this year, where it could work together with partners to enhance the device and add it its capacities. RealWear says it will have 20,000 in the area the year-end.
RealWear, directed by former DAQRI General Manager, Andy Lowery, lately completed a 17M series A financing, led by led by Columbia Ventures Corporation. He's joined by Dr. Chris Parkinson, a former Kopin engineer who has over 40 wearable patents, who abandoned Kopin to begin RealWear in 2015. At a list price of 2,000 RealWear is marginally more expensive than the1,800 Toshiba AR-100. Even the RealWear HMD, such as the ODG R-9, is a completely self-contained wearable computer with an advanced Android smartphone running to a super-fast Qualcomm processor, the 835.
Lowery outlined the four use cases that guided the Company in designing its own wearable mobile computer smart AR glasses. "The center use cases such as the HMT-1 are productivity, safety, and empowerment. Remote teachers can fortify low-skilled employees by connecting them (as well as their camera) to an engineer at a remote site. Digital workflow, which gives employees access to step by step instructions, diagrams, and legacy knowledge is delivered right into the apparatus through basic voice commands. With voice controls, you can literally pull your files magically, then move your head to browse and zoom into the place you desire."
The Toshiba dynaEdge AR-100 incorporates a smart Glasses solution that was co-developed using Vuzix, a Rochester N.Y. based supplier of industrial standard microdisplay-based AR headphones like its M-300. "The rationale that Toshiba and many others are working together with our inventions is they are simply the best-in-class: special, beneficial, and simple to use," Vuzix CEO Paul Travers explained in a meeting a few weeks ago. The company recently announced a user version of its clever glasses will probably be available in Q2 for developers and from fall for consumers "approximately $1,000" (no cost has been declared).
Vuzix' semi-transparent microdisplay, dependent on proprietary technology, remains a monocular however has a stereoscopic sense as it presents to the eyes. The Blade includes GPS, a Touchpad controller, a camera, two-way communication, and incorporates Alexa. "You are able to finally put your mobile phone in your pocket and leave it there," said Travers. A programmer version will soon be out by June. Vuzix is really protective of its AR glasses technology it is manufacturing the Blade in Rochester. "We'd spare no cost to secure our IP," Travers told me, "plus the standard of merchandise coming out of our American plant is fantastic. Building a transformative product locally provides a competitive edge." Consumers will have the important option of using their particular prescription lenses in the Vuzix Blade, which Travers believes is essential to success.
Three firms are or were seeking to attract Venture microdisplays to consumers. One has neglected. One is currently slow-walking their plans and one is boldly entering a marketplace where others have penalized. In 2015, Intel obtained Recon, which introduced a critically acclaimed fated AR Jet Sportglasses for performance athletes. Back in February, Intel showed pick members of the media the Vaunt, all round smartglasses that look like ordinary glasses. No fat wings or anything else that gives away its objective. In early April, with no public explanation, Intel closed down Recon and the New Devices Group. The company declined to talk about the transfer.
In 2016, Osterhout Design Group (ODG), an established defense contractor with a pioneering enterprise AR business, took 58M dollars in investment by a varied group of investors, such as amusement giant 20th Century Fox. The business announced plans to present the R-8, a customer edition of the R-7 for the enterprise, in China through a partnership with mobile giant MIGU in Q4 of last year. ODG is focused on R-7 and R-9 shipping now when finalizing the R-8 product before rollout begins. The route into the consumer is a measure at a time," ODG COO Pete Jameson explained as the firm announced a new venture with KDDI, the leading Japanese telecommunications operator, even for "extended reality eyeglasses", the R-9. The eyesight is a businessperson working with the R-9 for portable computing on the job might slide them on to see videos through the commute home. Jameson believes consumer adoption is inevitable however the timing is not as clear.
In this setting, Kopin is publishing its own $499 SOLOs AR sports glasses for operation athletes that spring. They seem to be the only industry leader today pedaling hard supporting consumers. There are numerous lower cost 2D video glasses in the marketplace such as the 200 Vufine, The Tech Comm Jupiter ($300) and GoVision Appolo ($117), which use microdisplays to deliver video-on-the go. Despite the very low-cost point and in spite of the fact that consumers spend much of the time on smartphones consuming videos, none of these products have busted out. Sony is working on a Bluetooth microdisplay that can mount on a standard pair of glasses.
Apple is also allegedly working with proprietary Micro-OLED technology for the iWatch and potentially using this technology to create an HMD. There has been speculation and rumor about this for many years. Las week CNET reported that Apple was planning a headset capable of AR and VR for release in 2020. The report has generated quite a stir, but its sole source is "a person familiar with Apple's plans". In its finishing paragraph, the writer suggests "Apple still could change or scrap its plans." In other words, as is so frequently true for Apple, CNET is reporting a rumor with a persuasive click bait headline which is being shared over interpersonal media.
The amount of companies that will be introducing microdisplay-based devices to consumers in the coming year implies that the chance for microdisplays to capture video screening time from computers and television is potential, however, Upskill's Ballard is skeptical. "I really don't see that the use case for customers," he said, echoing a sentiment shared by others in AR. "We are focused on the many hundred billion bucks ventures who need and need to be transformed now."