Epson Moverio Smart Glasses: Virtual and Augmented Reality

Epson, known for its printers and projectors, announced Moverio BT-200, its second generation smart glass technology this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The display uses a miniature LCD-based projection lens and optical light guide in the arms of the glasses. 

The resulting image is presented in a stereoscopic virtual display, a 23-degree field of view, with an ability to deliver a 360-degree panorama through its head-tracking capability (sensor enabled). The resolution is qHD (960 x 640).

The glasses include a handheld controller that runs Android on a TI OMAP 4460 processor. While that may seem an odd addition, you can mirror your own Android device using Miracast.

The Moverio BT-200 may best be described as some combination of virtual and augmented reality glasses. They are not immersive, like an Oculus Rift, and nor is the output as stunning, according to colleagues I polled who have tried both. But Epson isn't necessarily trying to compete there, either. In the demonstrations the company showed me, the glasses did play immersive Android games, but also games that took advantage of some real-life terrain.

Epson sees commercial applications for Moverio beyond gaming. For instance, it is working with augmented reality stalwart Metaio on applications that overlay virtual images onto things like HVAC units or cars, allowing professionals or DIYers to make repairs. Metaio is already working with Volkswagen and GM, for example.

Another partner, Evana Medical, uses the glasses to enable the visualization of blood flow with the glasses, so for example, nurses could use it to assist with hard-to-find veins. For now this is the only FDA-approved use of it, but there are other potential applications, such as debriding a wound.

The Moverio has native support for MP4 with H.264 plus AAC encoding, supports Bluetooth 3.0, and has a microSDHC card slot for up to 32 GB of external memory. It's available for pre-order now at $699, and will ship in March. For some video demonstrations, go to the Moverio YouTube site or check out the videos below.

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Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson is Editor-at-Large of Tom's Hardware US.