Augmented reality seen the wrong way around (but done right)

There comes Epson with a new edition of their Moverio BT-200 – AR glasses, augmented reality that is. They look like a normal pair of dorky glasses like I see lots in the commuter train, on which tiny projectors display from the inside semi-transparent images.

(photo Gizmag)
(photo Gizmag)

Not huge new concept, even Garmin does the same for your front-shield window with their head-up projector. The Epson device however embeds gyroscopes and whatever else to properly track your reality, and augment it. No, I didn’t try it yet but I’d love to, and certainly NOT based on the dumb reviews I can read all over the net. Why dumb?

First of all, they test it by… watching YouTube videos. Yes yes, in the reviewers’ world, augmented reality means watching YouTube while you jog. I can imagine the thinking going like this: it’s a display, ummm what do we do with displays, we watch YouTube right-o! D’uh, that’s maybe escaping reality but certainly not “augmented”. I don’t even care how Moverio fares with YouTube videos – it’s NOT what augmented reality is for.

Then comes the comparison to Google Glass. I can follow the logic again: it’s worn on the head, must be the same product of course. Why not comparing it then with a brim hat as well? Worn on the head (provided you have one), checked. It’d lose there for sure, as it’s not really protecting you from rain. What’s the augmented reality of Google Glass, with a little screen on the corner of your vision, just as distracting convenient as the navigation device in your car? Is it or not the same? Not.

I’m happy though they noticed it’s not the same device as Oculus Rift – probably because OR boasts “virtual reality” and Epson “augmented reality”. Noticing this difference must have been easy and didn’t require much brainpower, although OR and its class are the only things which actually CAN do what Moverio does (and even more) with the price of wearing a really huge thing on your head – fine at home but not when commuting.

All in all, Moverio is the first product which I’m actually looking into buying. It’s not even that expensive – like 700 bucks. The apps are here as well and if they can get it integrated with Layar (mobile AR browser) or Ingress (mobile geocaching-like game) then we have a sweet hit. Can’t wait! Until then I’ll settle for Garmin’s HUD in my car.

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