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Smart glasses find niche in industrial apps

13 Mar 2015  | Rick Merritt

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Wearable computing may find its niche among industrial users and not consumers, according to exhibitors at the Wearable TechCon, adding that business users are already adopting smart glasses from Epson, Google and Sony.

The event showcased a handful of smart watches, smart glasses and components for wearables including printed and stretchable electronics. To date, the category has been more sizzle than steak, with projects such as Google's Project Glass recovering from early hopes of big consumer markets.

"Google didn't cancel the programme, they just stopped giving it to consumers and they are still working on the next version," said Tero Aaltonen, chief executive of Augmenta, a start-up developing gesture and control software for smart glasses.

The Google smart glasses along with Epson's Moverio and eyewear from Vuzix are finding real uses in business applications, said Aaltonen. For example, a pilot project at DHL found workers were 25 per cent more efficient identifying and sorting packages using Glass than their usual handheld computers.

"I think smart glasses will see use in logistics applications first," said Aaltonen.

Augmenta has been shipping since November a version of its software that enables gesture controls on Android devices. In July, it will add a feature that projects virtual controls such as a keypad on a user's hand (see image at bottom.)

Jonas Petterson

For its part, Sony will start shipping in three weeks a limited supply of a developer's version of smart glasses targeting industrial users, said Jonas Petterson (above), a project manager who demonstrated the product. The glasses use a side projection technique to show floating text and images across a full field of view. They will cost $840.

Keypad

Sony is working with SAP and others to develop business apps for the glasses. They use a proprietary framework similar to the software on Sony's smartphones already available as a free developer's kit. The company will customise the design for large orders.


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