With $58-million worth of investors, some private, some not-so-private (21st Century Fox) the Osterhout Design Group (ODG) moves forward with their revolutionary augmented reality (AR) glasses.
You can already buy a pair by plunking down the better part of $3K for January shipment. That doesn’t include the tinted lens replacements, but I don’t think you’ll care.
The cut of these frames won’t win any runway awards, but they do a lot for such a convenient package. What remains unanswered is, can they replace your computer? I’m gonna skip ahead to my best guess; doubtful. Still, they’re good for the AR industry in ways you may not have considered.
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the first Terminator movie, then you get a sense of these frames. They look like what Arnold’s character wears the whole movie.
In fairness, they’re a lot sexier than the Microsoft Hololens AR glasses. The similarities warrant comparison as the Hololens technology is probably part of what Microsoft bought from ODG in 2014 for $150-million.
Neither pair, Hololens or these, could you wear inconspicuously. The hard part is cramming boards, chips, sensors (there’s a lot stuffed in these bad boys) and a valuable battery into the frame of a pair of glasses.
Considering all that, it’s amazing the R-7s are as sleek as they are.
Big inhale… the R-7s offer Bluetooth 4.1, an autofocus camera recording 1080p at 60 frames per second, two microphones (user and ambient), stereo audio ports with ear buds, 64GB of storage, dual 720p displays, ambient light, humidity and altitude sensors on top of the 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis magnetometer and more.
Aaand breathe. Wow, right? There’s more…
The onboard OS (ReticleOS) is an Android-based operating system, powered by a snapdragon quad core processor. Don’t expect PC-level computing, but the R-7s could replace your smartphone… in theory.
Everything you would see on your phone’s face, you can see in the world around you and more. The HUD affords augmentation of your existing view, albeit somewhat cut short by the top of the frames.
Still, you would have to wear them… where people could see you and stuff.
Put me in coach. I want a pair of AR glasses, but I’ll wait until they look like normal frames. These are close, not as close as the Shima lenses, but the R-7s do so much more than the Shima lenses.
We may have to figure out how to put the boards, batteries, and chips in a smartphone or similar device that lives in our pockets. The problem is getting that device to communicate with the glasses seamlessly for a long enough period of time that it is worth it. Wireless, even BT4.2 drains batteries with prejudice.
Another option is to scale down our tech to cram into a normal frame. It’s gonna be a few years, like a couple o’ few, maybe decades. Even then, the battery-barrier is a tough reality.
We are burdened by bulky batteries and will be for the foreseeable future.
The good news is, with every year, every iteration of AR technology we get a little closer.
Unlike the smartphone industry, stalled out in a peak of technological genius (and its investor downlines), AR is nascent tech. The way we talk about these devices today will be nothing like the way we talk about them in two years.
In a way, a $2,700 device keeps them in a development phase. The sooner investors figure out a way to get everyday people to wear AR glasses, the sooner that technology will join smartphone mediocrity.
So, yay for expensive!
For more information on the R-7s, head over to ODG’s site.