Innovation

Epson ups its AR enterprise play with 3rd-gen Moverio BT-300 smartglasses

Epson announced the Moverio BT-300 at Mobile World Congress on Monday. Its improvements and new features could make it a serious contender to bring more augmented reality to business.

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Smartglasses and other augmented reality (AR) hardware products may seem like brand new technology, but many of the industry's foundational products are many generations in. On Monday, Epson announced the Moverio BT-300, the third generation of its AR smart glasses.

The glasses made their debut on the opening day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The Moverio BT-300 are the lightest smartglasses that Epson has produced so far, and they make use of the company's Silicon OLED (Si-OLED) display to enable the proper transparency needed for an AR experience.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy template (Tech Pro Research)

This latest iteration of Epson's smartglasses has a quad core Intel Atom X5 processor, but they are only running Android 5.1 (Lollipop) as an OS. While that may seem like an odd choice, being that Android 5.1 is not the latest and greatest Android version, it is worth noting that 5.1 currently makes up 17.1% of the Android OS distribution, with 6.0 at a paltry 1.2%.

The front-facing camera is a 5 megapixel model, and the BT-300 has additional front-facing sensors to help the glasses better understand where real-world objects are in space relative to the user. The Si-OLED display and projection system are what allow the glasses to seamlessly combine 3D, virtual images with the real world, resulting in augmented reality. The display is 0.43" and has a resolution of 1280x720.

"The transition from LCD backlit projection to Si-OLED enables higher contrast levels, a wider color gamut and true display transparency...," Eric Mizufuka, product manager of New Ventures for Epson America, said in a press release.

SEE: VR and AR: The Business Reality

In a press release, Epson said it would focus on industries where it has achieved past success with the Moverio such as drone photography, healthcare, retail, training, and more.

Back in 2014, Epson made a big splash in healthcare with the Moverio when it announced a healthcare initiative that displayed a patient's veins on top of their skin and made it easier for healthcare professionals to draw blood or inject medication.

An example of its retail application is its work with GoInStore, where it provides glasses sets to retailers who can then walk an online shopper through a purchase. Epson and GoInStore are currently working with a major musical instrument retailer and an exotic car dealer.

Google Glass, before its quiet shut down and rebrand as "Project Aura," was Moverio's biggest competitor in the enterprise. But, with Google losing steam, Epson could capture the market as the leading enterprise AR provider if it moves quickly.

"It's an important move forward," said Forrester Research's J.P. Gownder. "Epson isn't hype heavy, but they are quietly putting together solid products with a real track record of pilots and even deployments in enterprise scenarios as diverse as museum tours to field service. The technical improvements will make them even more competitive. If Epson invests, they could become a real player in enterprise smartglasses."

The Epson Moverio BT-300 is available for pre-order now, and will be publicly available later this year. An official price has yet to be announced, but the previous models have hovered around $700.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Epson launched the Moverio BT-300 at Mobile World Congress with a faster processor and a better display, making it one of best AR options for consumers and business users alike.
  2. The new Si-OLED and DJI SDK show that Epson is heavily targeting first-person view drone piloting as a key use case.
  3. Epson's deep partnerships with existing enterprise players will continue to strengthen, and the BT-300 could be the device that cements Epson as the go-to provider of enterprise AR.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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