Ever since the launch of Google Glass and the ensuing publicity storm, there’s always been a groundswell of consumer interest in augmented reality glasses. As we all know, Google Glass didn’t exactly pan out in a way that people expected. Despite the enormous brand power of Google, it didn’t entirely take off.
The good news is that augmented reality glasses have continued to evolve. The market didn’t die with Google’s failed experiment. If you look at the innovation that happened during that time in this area of consumer electronics, failure is hardly the word that most people should associate with that situation.
If anything, Google Glass opened a lot of consumer electronic industry observers as well as participants’ eyes to how big this potential market could be. Currently, augmented reality glasses are viewed as separate and distinct from virtual reality headsets.
VR headsets have a specific market because they have a particular range of uses. Generally speaking, VR headsets are intended primarily for entertainment purposes. If you’re playing a video game or some type of screened entertainment, VR headsets can help you witness and enjoy the content in a more vivid way.
It’s right in your face, and it’s in 3D. You feel emotionally invested in what’s going on to get into the content you are watching. This scenario is separate and apart from what people use AR glasses for. AR or augmented reality is a technology where you take data points from the outside world, and it is processed through an app to get output that you can interact with or that you can act on.
Just as AR devices could be used for entertainment, there are more uses to it. They can help you make more sense of the world, make better decisions, help you figure out key points that you should be paying attention to. Put simply, they help you become aware of information that you can then use to connect the dots, brainstorm, or later on use for some sort of decision.
Our Picks in the Three Categories of AR Devices
Augmented reality glasses are currently broken down into tethered AR headsets, mobile AR, and AR glasses. If you are in the market for AR glasses, please understand that there is a wide range of offerings out there. Their design seems to be quite uniform, and this is what confuses a lot of people.
Just because products look reasonably similar in terms of construction and design doesn’t mean that they bring the same functions and, by extension, the same benefits to the table. In this short discussion, we will walk you through the hottest virtual reality glasses in the market today and break down what their functionalities are so you can make the right decision when the time comes for you to choose your pair of AR glasses.
If you are looking for an enterprise model, and I’m talking about heavy duty use involving a tremendous amount of data, the Vuzix M300 is right up your alley. It can handle a big load of data because it has a whopping 64gb memory. In terms of connectivity, you wouldn’t have to worry because it has many different connection options. It also comes with a native app that is already packed with a massive amount of content. On top of that, this device is compatible with android and iOS devices. It is also designed to handle additional accessories. With all that said, given the capacity of its processing power, it’s not a surprise that its battery life is one area of improvement it needs to work on.
ThirdEye Gen X2
These smart glasses have distinguished themselves in the market because of their versatility. Generally speaking, when people are looking for augmented reality glasses, they mean it. They’re looking for drinks that are just for processing outside information in a controlled digital app-based way. ThirdEye Gen X2 can do that, but they can also work with virtual reality apps. In other words, they can function like virtual reality glasses.
This product is mainly positioned by its manufacturer and designer for educational and professional purposes. It enables you to share information with another person in your connection area through video and audio content. What makes this device truly impressive is that its battery can last a full 8 hours. Not too shabby.
Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses
Vuzix is quickly becoming the go-to brand in the AR glasses market category. It’s easy to see why, thanks to products like the Vuzix Blade. These AR glasses work both with Android or iOS smartphones and tablets. It also has an 8-megapixel high definition camera, rechargeable batteries, and haptic feedback.
Its microphone has a noise-canceling feature, and it looks like ordinary eyeglasses. When you look at these features, it’s obvious why Vuzix has captured the imagination of the AR consumer space. They focus on compact devices that don’t look like anything out of the ordinary but pack a bit of firepower under the hood. They are not hesitant in including high camera technology in a small form.
The downside to Vuzix products and the Blade Smart Glass is no exception, is that they tend to have a hefty price tag. You are going to suffer some sticker shock to enjoy all the augmented reality benefits that Vuzix brings to the table. That is why it’s a good idea to turn to Vuzix for commercial or institutional grade hardware. In terms of personal or consumer use, you’d probably be better off with a lower-end brand.
Toshiba dynEedge AR100 Viewer
This product is an augmented reality head mount used by professionals engaged in the creative arts as well as animation. Please keep in mind that this is not entirely wireless. You don’t have a full range of motion because it has to be tethered to a Windows 10 PC. Batteries also run this device. It’s kind of a hybrid method.
You’re not operating on a wireless basis, so this can cut down on your mobility. On the plus side, it has built-in noise-canceling microphones and buttons which are highly customizable. You can reprogram your button settings to fit your personal preferences or work style. The good news about the Toshiba dynaEdge is that even though it is quite expensive compared to other models, this cost is justified because it is intended for commercial, professional, or institutional use.
Sports enthusiasts create these glasses. This brand made a name for itself in the AR field when these devices were publicized by athletes like cyclists, runners, and triathletes. There appears to be an extreme edge to these glasses. However, please keep in mind that these glasses are intended to be sports-oriented, so what you get are measurements of your speed, how much time has elapsed since you’ve started your workout, your heart rate, and similar data points. The device also has video and audio functions and can be controlled through an app.
The disadvantage is that it has a relatively mediocre battery life. We’re talking 5 hours at maximum. Given that it has somewhat limited use, these AR glasses are an excellent example of a specialty type of product but not necessarily an across the board or standard-setting option.
The final word on AR glasses
If you are on the market for AR glasses, study the analysis above to see the direct fit between functions, features, and benefits. Like always, make sure you pick a product that can thoroughly support the full range of uses you intend for that piece of hardware.