Google formally showed off the new Project Glass a.k.a Google Glass at the I/O event last week. This device uses a tiny display to transmit messages or information to the user. The idea in the long run is to minimize the use of smartphones and make everything easily accessible to the user. While it’s still in its developmental stage, Google will make the glasses available to developers for a whopping $1500. Regular consumers will be able to get their hands onto the said device by 2013, for a much lesser price, apparently.
A few days ago though, it came to light that Apple was patenting something similar to Project Glass. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent for a wearable head mounted display. While the two might be entirely different from each other, the concept sounds pretty much the same. It is noteworthy that Google has been hard at work with the concept to come up with something like Project Glass, though it’s pretty much in its early stages. But prior credit should go to a lesser known company in the field. We’re talking about Olympus here which was also cooking up a project similar to this, seven years ago. Back then however the technology hadn’t evolved as much as it is today and it had wires which kind of goes against the concept of a wearable display.
However, it seems like the company was hard at work these years in advancing the technology it showed off years ago. The company has formally announced the MEG4.0 concept which is pretty similar to Project Glass, but not as much as you would think. It’s not a separate unit on its own and attaches to an already worn glasses. So it’s more of an add-on to your existing pair of glasses than a separate unit like Google Glass. It transmits data into the regular glass as you like. It’s still early days for the project so there’s no info about price or release date. This unit basically connects to your smartphone over Bluetooth and grabs the data for you. The concept is said to have an intermittent battery life of 8 hours which would turn on the display every 3 minutes for 15 seconds or for 2 hours in a stretch if the user wishes continuous projection.
Here’s an excerpt from the company’s press statement (translated from Korean):
“The Company has a research and development of wearable display than ever before.”MEG4.0” the newly developed prototype is that brings together the technology developed to date. The adoption of our own pupil division optical system see-through, you can see the display does not obstruct the visibility of the outside world naturally. In addition, the order to increase the utilization efficiency of light of the display panel, that achieves high brightness remains low power consumption, the visibility of the outdoors has been improved.” Some of the features of the said unit are as follows – “Assumes a long-term use in daily life, realizing a compact, lightweight, low power consumption such as smart phones can be equipped with wireless connections with Bluetooth Proprietary optical technology, ensure the visibility of both the display and the outside world. A built-in acceleration sensor orientation, can be applied to a wide range of applications”.
The display of the device is said to be very functional for both indoors and outdoors usage. What’s important here to mention is that it will weigh under 30g, assuring that the user isn’t burdened with the weight of the unit. It’s good to see an experimental project like this, but it’s still far from perfect like Project Glass.
The company will be looking forward to making it stand out and unique in its own way. I don’t see the market taking something like this seriously considering the production costs of the device. But hopefully in the future, we will have something like this made available for a lot lesser than it is now. Adoption is also a fairly serious issue for something like this. Users might actually prefer operating a smartphone instead of relying on voice commands and blinks to perform actions. Google Glass offers a camera to record the user’s point of view, so it would make sense for Olympus to make a note of that. Let’s see how much the technology evolves until next year when Google starts selling its consumer version of Project Glass.