Innovation

ODG R-7 AR-enabled Smartglasses: The smart person's guide

Much of the AR industry is targeting consumers, but not Osterhout Design Group--its R-7 Smartglasses are designed for the enterprise. Here's what you need to know about them.

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Image: Osterhout Design Group

It's probably not hard to think of a time when you could have used a heads-up display (HUD) to give you important info while working on a two-handed project. Those working in security, industrial environments, in transportation, and other jobs could all benefit from a standalone HUD headset, and San Francisco company ODG thinks it has the perfect solution: R-7 Smartglasses.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide about ODG's R-7 Smartglasses is a quick introduction to this commercial augmented reality (AR) product. This resource will be updated periodically as changes are released.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What are ODG R-7 Smartglasses? The R-7 is a stand-alone, Android-powered headset designed for a variety of commercial and industrial uses. These smartglasses are packed with sensors and can be customized to fit their particular role.
  • Why do ODG R-7 Smartglasses matter? Unlike many consumer-facing products, R-7s are designed from the ground up for business use. ODG's ReticleOS, which powers the R-7, features an SDK that allows businesses to customize the glasses for a variety of tasks.
  • Who do ODG R-7 Smartglasses affect? ODG specifically lists transportation, healthcare, energy and utilities, logistics, and security as fields where the R-7 has applications, but its use doesn't end there. Almost any business where AR is useful is affected by, and could benefit from, the R-7.
  • When were ODG R-7 Smartglasses released? R-7 Smartglasses have been available since 2015. ODG recently added a hazardous locations variant to its lineup (currently in pre-order status), and are also planning for consumer releases later this year.
  • How do I get ODG R-7 Smartglasses? R-7s can be ordered from ODG's website or from a reseller.

SEE: Free ebook—Executive's guide to the business value of VR and AR (TechRepublic)

What are ODG R-7 Smartglasses?

Unlike other wearables like Google Glass, R-7 Smartglasses weren't constructed with consumers in mind. Instead, San Francisco-based ODG built them from the ground up for business users.

R-7s are stand-alone smartglasses that ODG describes as being more like "a high-end tablet on your head." They don't need to be connected to a PC to function; instead they're powered by an ODG-built, Android-based OS called ReticleOS. The Android core is largely unrecognizable though—the UI is completely different from a traditional Android device. There are still apps though, but not very many.

The technology packed into the six-ounce glasses is impressive, and it should be given the price of $2,750. These are definitely not smartglasses made for the average home user.

Specs for ODG R-7 Smartglasses

From ODG's website:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 2.7GHz quad-core Processor 3GB Pop LP-DDR3 RAM
  • 64 GB Storage
  • Dual 720p 16:9 stereoscopic see-thru displays at up to 80fps
  • ReticleOS Custom Framework on Android Marshmallow
  • Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac, GNSS (GPS/GLONASS)
  • Dual 650mAh Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Multiple Integrated Inertial Measuring Units with 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis magnetometer
  • Autofocus Camera (1080p @ 60fps, 720p @ 120fps)
  • Camera orientation available in Portrait or Landscape
  • Magnetically Swappable Lenses
  • Magnetic Stereo Ear Buds

For a more thorough rundown of the R-7's tech specs check out its product sheet (PDF).

Additional resources

Why do ODG R-7 Smartglasses matter?

ODG designed the R-7 with business and industry in mind. Yes, a consumer could use an R-7 for reading email, getting directions, and other basic tasks, but that's not the purpose behind the product.

The real power of the R-7 lies in its SDK and third-party SDK compatibility, which businesses can use to develop custom tools. Given enough resources the R-7 could be an invaluable tool for a variety of different professions, from delivery drivers to doctors.

A pair of R-7 Smartglasses could be used to give a mechanic step-by-step video guidance with an exploded view of an engine, guide a delivery driver to a hard-to-find destination, or even highlight intricacies of the human body for a doctor.

In short, ODG's R-7s have the potential to make a lot of professionals better at their jobs.

Additional resources

Who do ODG R-7 Smartglasses affect?

The R-7 Tech Sheet specifically mentions transportation, healthcare, energy and utilities, logistics, and security as industries that are affected by the smartglasses, but those particular fields are hardly an exhaustive list of who the R-7 affects.

SEE: All of CNET's coverage about augmented reality (CNET)

What makes the R-7 useful to a variety of businesses is its ability to provide industry-specific AR features, as well as being able to perform basic tasks a user would normally do on a smartphone or tablet.

Any job that requires using both hands while still needing access to technology could be affected by the R-7. Controlling the headset can be done with a touch-sensitive button on the right temple, allowing for relatively easy interaction with minimal interruptions to work.

Additional resources

When were ODG R-7 Smartglasses released?

ODG R-7 Smartglasses have been available since 2015. The new hazardous locations version of the R-7, the R-7HL, will be shipping later in 2017.

There are also two consumer models of ODG Smartglasses, the R-8 and R-9, both of which are supposed to ship in 2017. The R-9 is a higher-end model that will be priced around $1,800.

ODG's website says the R-9 should start shipping in Q2 2017, but the ODG online store still doesn't feature them for purchase or pre-order.

The R-8 is supposed to be less than $1,000 when it goes on sale in the latter half of 2017, but that's about all we know. There's no spec sheet, or other information aside from that.

Additional resources

Competitive products

At first glance (especially physically) the R-7 looks like a competitor for the Microsoft HoloLens. It actually fills a very different role, making its direct competitor Google's enterprise-focused Glass.

The HoloLens, on the other hand, is more geared toward projecting 3D holographic images instead of just being a HUD unit, which is the primary purpose of the R-7.

That means ODG could be going head-to-head with Google for the enterprise-focused smartglasses market, and that could be a tough battle.

Additional resources

How can I get ODG R-7 Smartglasses?

R-7 Smartglasses can be purchased directly from ODG's online store. ODG does state that there are some restrictions based on location, though, and in those cases you can contact one of its resellers.

Additional resources

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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