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Smart glasses scale up power, connectivity, storage features

Posted: 12 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Osterhout Design? smart glasses? Project Glass? Google? SoC?

The Osterhout Design Group has revealed what they consider as one of the most powerful and expensive pairs of smart glasses. The R-7, valued at $2,750, boasts significantly more memory and processing power than its current model to showcase its potential for business applications, widely seen as the sweet spot of the emerging market.

The R-7 packs a quad-core Snapdragon 805 SoC running at 2.7GHz, up from a 1.5GHz dual-core SoC in the current R-6 model. It includes 2GB LP-DDR3 memory (compared with half as much DDR2 memory previously) and a whopping 64GB storage, up from 16GB.

The glasses still sport a 720-progressive pixel display, but now it supports 80fps up from 30fps. Connectivity also was upgraded to 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 from .11n and BT 2.0.

The glasses still use the same 1,300mAh internal battery, but thanks to better silicon the R-7 maintains its battery life of the R-6. All the electronics are built into the five-ounce headset, a half ounce lighter than the R-6. Integration is part of the secret sauce of the six-year-old company that got started developing night vision goggles.

The company will provide an accessory to support LTE as well as an external battery back. The R-7 goes on sale in the fall with versions for developers shipping sooner, hoping to stake out a middle ground that covers both augmented and virtual reality apps.

R-7

The R-7 weighs in at a half ounce lighter than the existing R-6 model.

With the upgraded hardware, ODG goes after at least a dozen competitors in augmented and virtual reality headsets, mainly seeking use in business applications. To date, ODG has focused on government users with its R-6, now used in the military mainly for maintenance and training.

In the commercial market, ODG's competitors include Epson and its Moverio glasses. Based on a TI OMAP 4460 SoC, they have been making inroads with business users for four years, but are due for an upgrade.

Like most AR glasses the R-7 uses Android, in its case the somewhat dated KitKat version with ODG's own framework riding on top of it. Competing glasses generally cost less than $1,000 and are pushing toward $500 under pressure from low-cost glasses coming from startups such as Atheer Labs.

Google's Project Glass, announced in March 2012, took an early role in exploring the concept of consumer smart glasses. But the prototypes hit a number of walls; they were too costly, had a poorly defined value proposition and raised privacy issues about users potentially taking videos and pictures of people without permission.

"When you break the human emotional connection, the ways we like to communicate, you get issues," said Yves Behar, chief creative officer of wrist band maker Jawbone, speaking on a recent panel.

The Segway scooter faced the same hurdles, putting its users a foot above pedestrians. "No wonder it is mostly used now by police who used to ride horses," said Behar.

Another panelist was quick to note the category still has lots of potential even though Google is re-booting its Glass effort. "This is a technology that will eventually take off, it will be a big area and Google got us talking about the social issues behind it," said Mike Bell, GM of Intel's new devices group.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times





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