Functionalities and features of available smart glasses

Vasile Nedelcu
4 min readJul 1, 2021
Young female doctor looking at hologram screen (iStock picture)

An innovative and disruptive technology

The smart glasses, one of the most innovative and disruptive type of wearable technology that popped into our lives several years, offer great improvement in certain key areas:

  • Communication and collaboration: Smart glasses, whether involving Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), but especially Mixed Reality (MR) applications enhance and enrich personal interaction, changing how an organization and its staff share information and take actions
  • Training and simulation: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, or Mixed Reality components can be added to enhance individual learning or training courses. These technologies can successfully be used to create or enhance simulation environments, where required
  • Contextual information for the personnel: Using AR/VR/MR devices, workers can access specific information regarding the tasks they’re undertaking or the contexts within which they are operating
  • Remote supervision and support for the staff: Through these glasses, experts are seeing in real-time what field technicians see during their installation and maintenance work. This way, the experts are able to guide and support technicians with step-by-step instructions

Technologies powering smart glasses

To better understand what various glasses can do, we need to grasp the different, yet related, types of technology that power the devices. To that end, we present a combined picture of:

  • The environment context
  • The user interaction with the environment and, based on that, the potential usage of the devices
  • The preferred devices to be used by each technology type

Overview of smart glasses technologies

  • Augmented Reality is a technology that adds digital elements in a live view, usually through a smartphone’s camera or through specially designed glasses
    Environment: AR involves real environments captured by using a camera and the digital elements are added on top of the live view
    User Engagement: Users can engage with AR-based application even with their smartphones having a camera or through special designed glasses. It is not mandatory the usage of high-end systems to experience AR since the applications or games just add digital elements on top of live capture to engage the user
    Potential usage: games, trainings, and demonstrations
    Devices: AR applications may run on smartphones and there are many examples of such applications like the game Pokémon Go or interior design apps from Ikea. Specialized AR-capable devices are Snapchat lenses or the more sophisticated devices like Google Glass (used mainly by enterprises) and Epson Moverio, used especially in entertainment, but which has some business type of applications
  • Virtual Reality is often associated with a deep dive or complete immersion experience that leaves behind the physical world; users can explore various digitally designed or records of real-world locations
    Environment: VR involves virtual environments which are fully digital with a complete cut from the physical environment. VR-defined environments could be used in games, training, and demonstration
    User engagement: User gets completely involved within the digital environment without the involvement of the physical environment. User is expected to have access to a suitable system and compatible VR device (VR headset) to get involved within the applications or games having support for VR
    Potential usage: games, trainings, and demonstrations
    Devices: VR devices, by their intrinsic nature, are more sophisticated devices. Best known VR devices are Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive Series, HP Reverb, or Samsung Gear VR (in collaboration with Oculus)
  • Mixed Reality is a technology which combines real-world and digital objects. Mixed Reality allows users to produce new environments and visualizations, and users are interacting in real-time with physical and digital objects
    Environment: MR involves a mix of aspects from both virtual and real environments with the involvement of digital elements and therefore, the virtual objects will be mapped to the physical environment. MR differs from AR where the virtual objects are placed on the same layer with the physical world, not on separate layer on top of it
    User engagement: with MR, user can experience the involvement of virtual objects with the real world or the physical view and user needs to use a headset capable of MR
    Potential usage: AI-based training, games, industrial applications, demonstrations
    Devices: MR devices are usually considered a leap forward because of the way they show the interlink between real and virtual objects and because most MR devices are as in the same time AR-capable and MR-capable. Best known available devices in the MR space are Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap, and they provide advanced features and integration capabilities with remote assistance platforms typically used in the enterprise space

Potential benefits of smart glasses

A non-exhaustive list of smart glasses usage in industrial environments comprises:

  • Better experience for on-the-job learning
  • Greater operational efficiency
  • Lower operational costs
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Improved health and safety
  • Reduction of routine tasks or of tasks with no added value
  • Remote in-service audits and inspections

Further Reading

Wikipedia, Augmented reality

Wikipedia, Virtual reality

Wikipedia, Mixed reality

Wikipedia, Reality–virtuality continuum

Ikea Place, an Augmented reality mobile application from Ikea

Google Glass

The Verge article on Google Glass, May 2019

Epson Moverio Smart Glasses

Oculus Quest 2

The Verge article on Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, September 2020

HTC VIVE Series

HP Reverb G2 VR Headset

Microsoft HoloLens 2

The Verge article on Microsoft HoloLens 2, February 2019

What is Mixed Reality?, Microsoft Docs, August 2020

Use of Smart Glasses in Education-A Study, retrieved from IEEE Xplore website

Wearable Technology — Smart Glasses, Optiscan Group website

Smart glasses, what can they do?, Atria Innovation website, February 2020

--

--

Vasile Nedelcu

Digital Transformation, Agile Coach, Agile Software Devopment, DevOps, IT Management, IT Portfolio Management, Cloud Computing, Network Virtualization