While Epson’s smart glasses division largely targets enterprise customers, you may be surprised by what’s been driving sales for the last four years. Eric Mizufuka, Epson product manager, has admitted that over the past four-year sales to drone pilots have outpaced sales to the enterprise.
Epson and its competitor in the smart glasses market ODG both say the beginning of the era of consumer smart glasses is nearly here. What’s driving smart glasses sales? Drone pilots. Epson is already working with DJI to build tools for their Moverio glasses on top of the DJI drone development platform. This marrying of technologies creates opportunities for new “apps,” an example would be visual alerts when your drone enters a no-fly zone. Michael Perry, DJI public relations manager, said.“This can help make flying and filming safer, and in compliance with local regulations that require staying within line of sight of drones while flying.”
Mizufuka explained that translucent smart glasses let pilots see their drones and additional data, such as a live video feed from a drone’s on-board camera, simultaneously. This matters especially for drone photographers who want to line up their shots without looking down at a tablet or computer that might otherwise display that video feed.
Erich von Bitonio, a drone pilot from Silicon Valley (technically, he noted, he prefers “UAV/multirotor pilot”) said he has used Epson’s Moverio glasses while flying a quadrocopter, but “it’s not ideal.”
“The transparency of the design makes real FPV[first-person view] flight difficult,” von Bitonio said. “Also, in bright outside light, the image is almost unusable.”
Erich von Bitonio’s comment about FPV flight being difficult is a bit disappointing, but I’m sure this limitation will eventually be overcome. It should be noted, this isn’t a limitation of just the Moverio glasses.
Several augmented reality glasses have struggled with producing images large and bright enough to be viewed clearly outdoors, without sacrificing the translucency of their lenses that makes them useful for real-world tasks. This is also a challenge for the more established AR enterprise market, for people in industries like construction or telecom that do a lot of work outdoors.
So with the current limitations, what are the glasses good for? You can expect information overload, and improved interactivity.
“We expect to see features like head-tracking camera control and a more detailed heads-up display (showing everything from telemetry data for the platform to the speed of an object that the pilot is tracking) integrated into systems like the Avegant Glyph or Hololens,” Perry said.
With the combined Epson/DJI development available for public consumption, we’ve already got more apps in the works. Apparently, there is even a game.
Another application in third-party development, Mizufuka said: At least one game, challenging pilots to fly their drones through virtual rings displayed on the glasses.
DJI – Introducing Effortless FPV with Epson Moverio