InsideAR Tokyo 2014 was hosted by Metaio, a leader in augmented reality solutions. The conference, which was held on July 8th, introduced us to a host of new faces in the world of augmented reality, as well as some interesting contributions from the established players in this sphere. This is our rundown of the technology at InsideAR Tokyo 2014 – there was a lot there to catch our interest. Stay tuned for our upcoming analysis of the conference itself and the contributions that we heard from AR visionaries.
Devices at InsideAR Tokyo 2014
When looking through the lenses, you see a sort of virtual environment, which is supposed to be immersive, we suppose, but ends up being slightly nauseating due to the constant lagging, disconnection, and latency. Compared with some of the other devices, it’s fairly comfortable to wear, and it does look much better, but the current state of the device is fairly last-generation.
The input, especially, is lagging pretty far behind. With the multitude of possibilities concerning wearable AR controls (see these posts for more info) it’s hard to countenance using an attached trackpad to control this type of device. Furthermore, when you change your field of view (looking off to the side, for example) the cursor doesn’t shift with you, and you have to drag it out from God knows where to bring it into your current field of view.
The one-eye display is another plague of these devices. Of course it presents great challenges to create a really high-quality two-eye display, but this is entirely necessary if we want to bring these devices into daily use, since seeing the HUD in only one eye gets irritating fairly quickly.
All in all, the Moverio BT-200 is promising, but arguably not release-ready. The wired controller, glitchy interface, and patchy connectivity all conspire to make it more of a prototype than anything else.
Westunitis, an Osaka-based software company interested in edging into the wearable market, showed the Inforod at InsideAR Tokyo 2014. It’s not entirely a pair of glasses, more of an attachment for a pair of glasses, and the makers claim that at 48 grams, it is the lightest wearable around. It definitely looks stylish.
However, the lightness and good looks of the device certainly come at the expense ofstability. There is a constant fear that it’s going to fall off your head, and the one-eye display is really very uncomfortable. Another example of a wearable that seems rushed to market, it is glitchy, with controls served by on-device buttons with high latency.
However, it may serve some of its stated purposes fairly effectively. The Westunitis Inforod has the capability of quickly identifying objects, which could have a wide variety of applications. If the display were interactive, then it could be a much more potent device.
The Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses
Vuzix's M100 Smartglasses work very well, but were fairly unpleasant to work with. They suffer from the same one-eyed display as the others do, compounding that by being generally amazingly uncomfortable to wear.
A worker, not a looker
However, it’s the functionality of this piece, not the style or comfort, which makes it exciting. The face recognition on it works surprisingly well, while the object recognition leaves the others behind by quite a bit. There was a demonstration at InsideAR Tokyo 2014 where they showed its ability to correctly identify the various parts of a motherboard without the latency and glitchiness that haunted the other devices.
Vuzix claims that their device could have largely medical applications or become useful in repair work, and given analogous software in that field it could offer some serious benefits there. The controls, being as they are on the device itself, would have to be made truly hands-free, but there is a lot of promise here.
However, the Vuzix device suffers awfully with battery life, holding a charge for only about an hour. If it were needed for long operations or repairs, this could offer a serious disadvantage.
Mirama and Their Prototype
Mirama’s Prototype was easily the most exciting piece of technology that we saw at InsideAR Tokyo 2014. It hasn’t been rushed to market (in fact, the developer version was the one we saw displayed) and features its own operating system. This provides a breath of fresh air in an increasingly two-OS world, but the excitement doesn’t end there.
It has a fully-fledged system of gesture controls which differ from those you could find on a smartphone. Instead of pinching and dragging to zoom, for example, you make an L-shape with your forefinger and thumb and drag outwards in a surprisingly intuitive movement. This is exactly the type of innovation that might make glasses a possible competitor to the smartphone. The following video shows our CBDO again acting as a guinea pig for this particular control:
This system is still in development, so it needs calibration with every new user, but afterwards it works remarkably well with low latency. The Prototype itself isshockingly comfortable to wear, and although it looks silly at the moment, it’s certain that it will get smaller with further development.