If you remember the first video Google launched when Glass was firstly introduced as a potential consumer device on the 5th of April 2012, then you know that not even one of the things presented in it didn’t come to life, not even now, after two years. However, Google did raise interest all over the world for new wearable PC technology. The video, entitled at the time Project Glass, pictured how the world looks like seen through Augmented Reality (AR), 24 hours a day. The concept we have seen back then, which created a lot of enthusiasm among visionaries has been set aside in the meanwhile due to technological difficulties. As you know, Google is still struggling to launch a consumer version that isn’t faulty, but entirely functional.
While Google’s video, project Glass, presented a world of science fiction bowing down to our feet, the actual smartglasses they eventually released in limited editions showed that they have nothing in common with the original project, or at least not for now. As it turns out, a hand of enthusiasts and visionaries from a small French company decided to make the project on their own. So now, they are getting ready to release SeeThru, a head wearable, which comes a lot closer to Project Glass than Google Glass itself does.
The company behind SeeThru is called Laster Technologies and originates in France. Last week, Zile Liu, the company’s CEO stated for TechHive that they found through their device a new way to overlay the Internet and the real world. By using the smart glasses, when seeing an object the user could get instant information on it. Having relevant, fast delivered information exactly in your field of view; this is what future Internet is all about.
We agree with the Laster’s CEO point of view on the future, but isn’t this just another marketing strategy? Well, people who have tested their new smart glasses are pretty excited on them and state that the device is capable of things Google Glass cannot do yet and the price starts at about $400. However, there’s another question in our minds: How much does humankind need such a device in the present moment?
Ups and downs when it comes to AR
On one hand, SeeThru can be used quite different from Glass, considering that its 800×600 display can provide a 25-degree view diagonal. For instance, it would fit better in activities like museum visiting and sightseeing, where overlaying information over an object could actually bring you more interesting information such as the date of construction, location and so on.
Another strong point Laster is working on for SeeThru is adapting it for extreme sports such as snowboarding or skateboarding, flying planes or sailing. Liu states that more apps to help with these activities will be developed in the near future, but he wasn’t able to provide more specific information. However, even after toying around with the device, the question still remains: how much augmented reality do you need in your daily life?
Besides, it is more than obvious that Glass’s display can be uncomfortable to use for long time frames, thanks to the upper right positioning of the tiny display. Many users have complained about eyestrain, or that when using the Glass longer or switching from Glass viewing to normal view in fast succession, headaches could appear. This doesn’t happen when using the SeeThru, because its display is positioned right in the middle of your eye vision, making it a lot easier to use.
This does come with a downside, however. People testing the SeeThru said that the device couldn’t be used in real life because it can be disorienting to have something always blocking your sight and displaying additional details. Just as with Glass, it takes a while to see such an experience as natural or normal.
Even Liu agreed to this thing, by saying that augmented reality isn’t to be used 24/7, at least not now, and that it takes time for people to get used with the device. However, he does recommend it for people doing sports because it can deliver a pretty interesting view over regular things.
The SeeThru prototype available now for testing is hooked on wires and uses an OLED screen, but by the time it will be launched, it will be wireless and have a bigger LCOS screen. Other improvements require software development such as brighter overlays, better text displaying, content organization and so on.
Same sensors, less processing
As in the case of Glass users, who received a lot of social bumps from other people, SeeThru users might also be challenged and have to go through awkward questions and names before being socially accepted at least in some circles.
Liu says that the final version will weigh around 2 ounces and won’t include a camera, CPUs or memory that makes it cheaper to produce and to sell while also eliminating the privacy issues generated by these characteristics. By establishing a Bluetooth connection with the smartphone, SeeThru relies on it to do the hard work.
Considering that SeeThru must be able to respond to head movement, it comes with a complete set of sensors, which makes it able to perfectly display the information map over the real object. Packing three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and three compasses the device can deliver a perfect information overlay, while the battery lasts from 6 to 8 hours of continuous usage. As for the navigation, this can be made through voice control or a tiny set of buttons positioned on the frames.
Liu says that the project will be finished around June this year and that the first version will come packing two applications: AR navigation and AR GPS. The programs will get their information from Wikitude- an AR data platform, and Google Maps.
Will SeeThru’s release be coming before the two years ago announced Google Glass? We don’t know. Besides, Laster isn’t the only company competing with Google; you probably remember Epson’s Moverio, which are just a few months away from their second version and it’s much closer to Glass’s area of activity than SeeThru. And of course there are other recently announced competitors such as GlassUp, an Italian producer and Meta.
All of these information make us believe that in the years to come there will be a lot of transitions and a lot of things to evaluate and take sides of.
As the dices are thrown, we can only believe that the main battle will go around Google on one side and all the other AR advocated on the other. The only one able to put an end to this will be at the end, the consumer, the one who has decided so far which device stays and which is out of the market.