Design of New AR Glasses in Cool Industry Class

In the Cool Industry class of the postgraduate course Industrial Design, with teachers Alfred van Elk and Niels Mulder, new concepts and products were developed for AR Glasses / Goggles. If possible, one of these AR glasses (eyewear) will be prototyped and used for real mobile AR. We will add a computer – as small as possible – and one or two cameras and we will use markerless AR. It will probably only function indoors for now; due to the effect the changing weather conditions have on the light intensity. Lilian van Daal, Tim Huiskens, Tim Keijzers, Wouter Sieuwerts and Yasine Salihine presented their concepts and products to a very interested audience at their final presentation on 9 February 2011. Teachers Jacob de Baan, Alfred van Elk and Niels Mulder and student Laura Marcos Carbonell from the Post Graduate Course Industrial Design were present, along with,

From the AR Lab: Yolande Kolstee and Wim van Eck.

From TU Delft: Professor Pieter Jonker, Ronald Poelman, Oytun Akman, Robert Prevel and their guest, Ibrahim Arief.

From Waag Society: Jennifer Kanary.

Lilian van Daal

Tim Huiskens

Tim Keijzers

Wouter Siewerts

Below you will find an overview of headsets, compiled by Ronald Poelman, that are on the market halfway through 2011.

RAPTYR (Vuzix). At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hardware company Vuzix revealed the first transparent AR glasses for consumers. The glasses, called Raptyr, use holographic optics instead of video screens to make digital objects appear in mid-air. The approach presents many challenges, not in the least that the interface has to compensate for (or compete with) natural light. To achieve this, the lenses can electronically darken to compensate for brighter or darker environments. The Raptyr glasses, which have won a CES Innovation Award, feature a 6 megapixel camera, a microphone, headphones and a motion tracking system. They could be plugged into a PC, smart phone, or game console.

Cinemizer OLED. Carl Zeiss continues making minor improvements to his Cinemizer head-mounted display, announced back in 2008 and intended to be the most amazing way to watch stuff on your iPod. It didn't exactly catch on then, and two years later we're not entirely sure that the latest revision will either. The tiny screens that sit a fraction of an inch from your eyeballs have been upgraded to OLED, which should make them bright and lovely as they pummel your rods and cones, but sadly are still stuck in VGA land - 640 x 480 is not a lot of pixels these days. This version also pledges greater compatibility with non-Apple devices, a welcome change, and even more welcome is the new visual styling, which makes you look a little less walleyed than the last model. Despite this the price hasn't changed much, estimated to be around €400 ($515), but that's still a lot to pay just to have the coolest Frozone costume ever.

Penny Interactive Glasses BM10 provide a unique combination of a projection unit that creates a transparent display and the ability to control an external unit that the system to which the system is connected without the use of hands. Penny Interactive Glasses BM10 don't just show display information, it also gives you the opportunity to navigate and do selections in a complete transparent graphical environment. If you need your hands free for you main task, but require data from a mobile computer at the same time, Penny Interactive Glasses are the tool for you.

Microvision Mobile device eyewear, currently in the initial development phase, would combine Microvision's ultraminiature PicoP display engine with special optics that are embedded into fashionable or protective glasses. The information being displayed in the eyewear optics would originate in the mobile device and arrive at the eyeglasses through either a wired or wireless connection. The mobile device eyewear viewing experience could be completely see-through, providing the wearer with a visual information overlay, without losing awareness of their surroundings. Or, the viewing experience could be occluded, offering the wearer an immersive, visual experience where the wearer purposefully escapes their immediate surroundings.

Lumus. The technology is simple: an LCOS projector shoots an image through a glass lens and into specially polished areas of the glass. This area “projects” a simulation of a 60-inch color screen in HD in front of your face and the lenses are see-through so you can look away into the distance or up close at objects in front of you. Because the system is stereo-optical you can transmit two of the same image to both lenses or – and this is where it gets crazy – you can transmit two separate images. That’s right – 3D images in front of your face, anywhere you look and the images are unobtrusive.

Clear Vu is a patented technology based on moulded plastic components, allowing low cost see-through video eye-wear applications. This technology allows ”see-through” mobile video or augmented reality applications and is 3D compatible. Clear-Vu can be shaped to look like a pair of normal glasses or sunglasses.

Laval. The consortium DREAMS presents the first experimental 'optical see-through' augmented reality glasses at the Cité des Sciences, during the exhibition Earth Objectives: the satellite revolution. An unprecedented journey to the heart of the world of satellites. A spherical screen projects an animation of the Earth moving in the center of a round table. Equipped with glasses, the visitor sees the virtual satellites revolve around the Earth as the orbits – or the Kourou base – are drawn in 3D on the table. The virtual content can be navigated with hand gestures. This new, interactive and enriched way of viewing the world heralds a new generation of media, where virtual content will be displayed directly on your field of vision, by providing an interactive enrichment to what is seen.

Neostra. Among the many fascinating and varied devices on show at the China Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong was a very interesting product from Neostra that allows the user to watch a big TV screen with only a pair of unassuming glasses. Products like this have been attempted before, but it seems like the Shanzhai are the first to market something that actually works. Check the page after the break to see for yourself. Although we don't have real specs and technical details just yet, the sales reps at the booth were happy to say that the glasses on show gave you the equivalent viewing experience of watching a 60" screen. Although it wasn't quite the full home theater experience, it nevertheless was till quite remarkable and perfect for long flights for instance; kind of like a visual walkman.

Tobii (Note: Only for eye tracking). Tobii Glasses are a revolutionary, accurate and efficient tool for capturing natural user behaviour in both qualitative and quantitative real world research.

SCALAR. So far, goggle-type HMDs that cover both eyes and project large images have been obtrusive. When worn on the streets, this type of HMD is not only dangerous because it limits the user's sight, but it also makes the wearer look a little weird. By contrast, the Teleglass T3-F has an image display unit over one eye only, which is not covered completely. Thus, the user is able to see the surroundings sufficiently even when he is watching the images. Moreover, the image display unit is retractable and can be placed into a position parallel to the temple at the touch of a button. That way the HMD does not block the wearer's sight at all when he is not watching the images. In addition, since it is mounted on the glasses, it does not make an odd impression when worn on the streets.

Macxwear Open Source do-it-yourself dataglasses for augmented reality glasses: join the team, make your own glasses, improve the design, share and feed the loop. Contact staffan@macxwear.com for info.

DIY. The DIY components are:

  • A pair of Myvu Crystal video glasses hacked into a monocular head-mounted display;
  • The Beagleboard single-board computer running Angstrom Linux;
  • A Plexgear mini USB hub driving a bluetooth adapter and powering the Beagleboard and the display;
  • Four 2700 mAh AA batteries powering the USB hub;
  • A foldable Nokia SU-8W bluetooth keyboard for input;
  • And Internet connectivity through bluetooth tethering to an iPhone.

RECON. Introducing Transcend, the epic collaboration between Recon Instruments and Zeal Optics. Sleek graphics and smart optics are completely unobtrusive for front and peripheral vision, making this real-time head mounted display the ultimate solution for use in fast-paced environments.

Olympus (AR Walker). One of the 'sub trends' of this year’s CEATEC exhibition, held near Tokyo, is augmented reality; especially among the telecommunications companies. Japan’s biggest mobile carrier, NTT Docomo, is experimenting with an AR device developed by Olympus in 2008 called the AR Walker. What’s special about the hardware is that it’s small and light, that Olympus is offering it in three different versions, and that it already works. What Docomo showed at their booth was an AR-powered mapping application that helps you find your way when you’re lost, for example; with digital annotations and icons popping up in front of your eyes.

Babak (Parviz). These visions may seem far-fetched, but a contact lens with simple built-in electronics is already within reach; in fact, my students and I are already producing such devices in small numbers in my laboratory at the University of Washington, in Seattle (see sidebar, "A Twinkle in the Eye"). These lenses don’t give us the vision of an eagle or the benefit of running subtitles on our surroundings just yet. But we have built a lens with one LED, which we’ve powered wirelessly with RF. What we’ve done so far barely hints at what will soon be possible with this technology.

StarkHUD (Note: FAKE movie commercial, but fun!). Heads Up Display (HUD) technology has long been the stuff of comic books and science fiction. Now it has become reality. Japanese electronics manufacturer Fujikawa released a first glimpse of their Stark HUD 2020 which will be on display at Stark Expo early next month. This is game changing technology which promises to take consumer optics and communication into another dimension.