This tutorial enlists the best Augmented Reality or Smart Glasses with their features to help you select one depending on the target application:
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality is not limited to a wearable device and is being tested and implemented on phones, projectors, and PCs alike in addition to AR glasses or AR headsets. Although this technology has huge potential for mass adoption, it is fairly less understood than even virtual reality.
With inspirations from the likes of Lenovo’s AR Concept Glasses and NReal Light AR smartphone glasses, users will be able to use PCs and smartphones in AR, on the road, and with visual privacy, because the small portable and wearable smart glasses also allow PC and smartphone users to access their PC-based work, social media, and game software remotely.
So, this AR smart glasses or Augmented Reality Glasses tutorial lets you understand the different types of AR headsets and glasses or devices, leading AR glasses and headsets, and leading manufacturers in the industry.
What You Will Learn:
- Types Of Augmented Reality Glasses
- List Of Top 10 Augmented Reality Glasses
- How Do AR Smart Glasses Work
- Applications Of Smart Glasses
Types Of Augmented Reality Glasses
#1) Heads Up Displays Or HUDs
It is a transparent display that presents data to the user’s screen in front of their eyes, hence the user need not look away from their usual viewpoints. Additional data displayed could be routes, location, plans, black spots, chats with other device users, and even 3D images and videos.
#2) Holographic Displays
Augmented Reality glasses based on this technology display 3D holograms overlaid on the real world where the user is located to render a mixed reality experience to the user. The hologram image is generated using light diffraction techniques.
Examples include Microsoft HoloLens.
The below image explains the Holographic display headset on use:
#3) Smart Glasses
AR smart glasses are wearable computer-capable glasses that add extra information, ideally 3D images and information such as animations and videos, to the user’s real-world scenes by overlaying the computer-generated or digital information on the user’s real-world. It can retrieve information from computers, smartphones, or other devices and can support WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
Examples include Google Glass Explorer Edition and Vuzix M100.
Handheld AR is using handheld devices such as smartphones on which AR apps are installed to access and apply AR. They contrast with the AR headsets that are worn on the head and are easy to use and cheap.
Examples include using your smartphone to try out virtual models of furniture on your house floor, on the IKEA app, or playing Pokemon Go on an AR app on your smartphone.
Further types include:
- Smartphone AR headsets: These AR headsets employ the smartphone to generate AR environments. A smartphone can be slotted on a holder on the wearable AR headset that also has visors through which the user can view the real-world even as smartphone generated projections are overlaid above.
Inspired by the smartphone-based AR, smartphone AR glasses or headsets make AR more accessible and cheaper because one does not need to buy the more expensive computer-capable AR smart glasses and headsets.
Examples include the iOS and Android-powered Ghost smartphone AR headsets that also use Ghost OS to float apps in front of the user’s real-world environments.
- Tethered AR headsets: These are wire or cable-tethered on the smartphone or PC and made for a faster, more reliable, and more secure connection.
Ghost smartphone AR headset:
- Wireless AR headsets: Even most of those in other categories would fall in this as long as they have wireless connectivity via WiFi, Bluetooth, and other methods.
List Of Top 10 Augmented Reality Glasses
Here is a list of the best AR Smart Glasses:
- Microsoft HoloLens 2
- Magic Leap One
- Epson Moverio BT-300
- Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2
- Vuzix Blade AR
- Raptor AR headset
- ThirdEye Generation
- Kopin Solos
- Toshiba dynaEdge
- Snap Spectacles 3
Comparison Table Of Best Smart Glasses
|Field of view (degrees)||Refresh Rate (Hz)||Tracking and control||Battery Life (hrs)||Others||Pricing ($)||Our Rating
(Out of 5)
|Microsoft HoloLens 2||2048 x 1080||52||120||Eye and hand||6||For AR devlopers|
-Sharing of AR
|Magic Leap One||1300 pixels per eye||50||120||Eye and hand, with haptics||3||-Haptics|
|Epson Moverio BT-300||1280 x 720 pixels||23||30||Eye and hand||6||-Drone AR|
|Google Glass Edition 2||720p video capable||80||-||Eye and hand||8||-GPS|
|Vuzix Blade AR||640x360||10||-||Eye, with haptics||2||-Haptics|
|Raptor AR||800x600||43||144||Eye, button||8||-For outdoor athletics||599||3.5|
|ThirdEye Generation||1280 x 720 Pixels||42||-||Eye and hand||8||-Sharing AR|
-VR apps also
|Kopin Solos||400 × 240||10.6||120||Eye and hand, with tactile||5||-Tactile inputs|
-Mainly for sporting
|Toshiba dynaEdge||1280 x 720||-||-||-||4||-Works with mini Windows laptop||1899||2.5|
|Snapchat Spectacles 3||Captures 1216 x 1216 pixels videos||86||-||Eye tracking||100 10-second videos||-Android, iOS compatible |
-works with Snapchat & other social media
Let us review these Augmented Reality Glasses in detail:
#1) Microsoft HoloLens 2
- 52 degrees of freedom (Edition 1 had 34); 47 pixel per degree or 2048 x 1080 pixels per eye.
- Transparent lenses, HD 8 MP camera, numerous sensors to track user position from all sides, and a microphone for voice inputs.
- Current updated HoloLens 2 has two 2K 120 Hz (refresh rate) display that projects to overlay 3D color 3D images over natural spaces so the user sees mixed reality and can interact with virtual 3D models and holographs.
- Eye and hand movement tracking to place mixed reality content appropriately and allow proper interaction by the user.
- Popular for enterprises in remote training, remote collaboration, logistics, assembly lines, etc.
- HoloLens 2 used for developing mixed reality apps with Unity and Azure for free trials.
- Remote assist option allows for data sharing and collaboration.
- 4GB RAM, Storage 64 GB. Weighs 20 OZ.
- CPU: Custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU Generation 2); Qualcomm Snapdragon 850.
Here is a video on Microsoft Google Glass Enterprise:
Pros: Comfortable, has gesture recognition, and has an extensive field of view.
Cons: Expensive and not so good for home use.
Rating: Scores a rating of 4/5
#2) Magic Leap One
- 50 degrees field of view (bigger than that of HoloLens 2 and HoloLens 1) with 4:3 aspect ratio.
- 1300 pixels per eye; 120 Hz refresh rate; supports 16.8 million colors.
- Vibrating haptics, hand-held controller with 6 degrees-of-freedom tracking like the desktop VR controllers, rear trigger and button at the front. LED lights can activate to indicate where to press in apps.
- 8GB RAM of which 4 is available for apps; 128GB of storage, but only 95GB is free, audio input, and ambient audio. Supports real and virtual spatial audio.
- Nvidia Tegra X2 processor, CPU–2x Denver 2.0 64-bit cores, 4x ARM Cortex A57 64-bit cores.
- Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11ac/b/g/n, USB-C.
- Sees from 14.6 inches to infinity.
- Prescription inserts are available.
Pros: Weighs 415 grams for the Lightpack, and a 325 grams Lightwear.
- Poor battery life–only 3 hours.
Rating: Scores a rating of 5/5
Pricing: About $2295 at the Magic Leap store.
#3) Epson Moverio BT-300
- 23 degrees field of view, 720p HD resolution on OLED display, 5MP camera, dedicated controller, an apps market, virtual screen size support 80”, 24-bit color reproduction,
- 1280 x 720 pixels. 5 million pixels camera. It has 5 types of sensors.
- Applications include remote assistance and are popular with drone operators because they get a bird’s-eye view directly to their smart glasses.
- Android 5.1; CPU Intel Atom x5, 1.4.
- Drone edition allows the use of AR smart glasses to control the drone, for example, in DJI drones.
- 2GB RAM, user memory 16 GB, 120g weight, 6 hours of battery life.
- Instead of floating images in the real-world like the HoloLens and Leap Magic, Moverio BT 300 shows a virtual display floating in the real-world in front of the user’s eyes. The display moves relative to eyes and head positions.
Here is a video on Epson AR:
- HD display resolution. Battery life is long and weighs very light.
- Lesser cost than other best in the category.
- Limited storage of 32 GB max on microSD, and limited processing power, narrower field of view than HoloLens or Magic Leap One.
Rating: Scores a rating of 3.4/5
Pricing: $699 at Epson website.
#4) Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2
- 720 p video support, 80 degrees field of view camera.
- Now with assisted GPS, faster and more reliable dual-band WiFi connectivity, faster processor, and upgraded 8MP camera for HD images and videos.
- 2GB RAM and 32 GB memory; Camera acts as a release switch and Glass Pod removable from the main frame and can be attached to safety glasses for use on factory floors.
- Hinge sensor to determine if the hinge is open.
- Voice commands and built-in earphones.
- Enterprise edition is for businesses and enterprises.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 710 processor chip.
- USB-C port, Bluetooth 5, and Wi-Fi 5 support.
- Android 8.1 Oreo support; Glass O operating system.
Here is a video on Google Glass Enterprise 2:
- Light in weight (36 grams), has voice commands making it easier to use, the processor is fast, camera is also upgraded.
- A battery life of up to 8 hours.
Cons: Expensive and less useful for home applications.
Rating: Scores a rating of 3.5/5
Pricing: $1,167, Google’s hardware resellers CDW, Mobile Advance, or SHI.
#5) Vuzix Blade AR
- 10 degrees field of view. 8MP HD camera to capture 1080p videos.
- Has haptic feedback. Has noise-canceling mics. It has touchpad and head motion tracking devices.
- It also uses waveguard optics to project a see-through image to the user in front of their eyes. Lenses are UV-protection lenses and customizable with prescription inserts, and with multiple color options.
- Provided with a mobile application and an app store called VUZIX Basics, which has a variety of apps and content–works with smartphones (both iOS and Android) because it features a built-in Android and iOS.
- Has a display at the center instead of an independent one at the side. Have a micro-SD slot.
- Uses Alexa to do basic operations.
- Red indicator tells whether its camera is on–no taking pictures without users being unaware like was the case with Google Glass.
- Versatile eyeglass options.
Here is a video on Vuzix:
- 8MP HD camera, noise-canceling effects on mics, a growing number of apps on the device’s app store. 64 GB of memory space.
- Batteries are rechargeable.
- Expensive compared to the other top listed devices here.
- Limited applications compared to smart glasses at the top of the category.
- Poor battery life of just 2 hours.
Rating: Scores a rating of 3/5
#6) Raptor AR headset
- 13.2 MP front camera enables capturing 1080p HD videos and photos, optional controller, intuitive touchpad, users can switch between different visor tints depending on weather, 2 GB of RAM and 16/32 GB internal memory. The Polycarbonate visor is resistant to pollutants–dust, water, and small impacts.
- 43 degrees field of view. Claims are that it uses Beam technology, a WVGA+ technology, to project a very simple wireframe display over an area equivalent of a 65” screen placed at 12 feet in front of a user’s eye.
- Real-time graphic information is projected directly from the device’s lens.
- Offers a host of options to connect to other devices–WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+, GPS, Glonass. Allows users to monitor heart rates, speed, and cadence; share routes, pictures, videos, and other stuff with other users. Android and iOS support.
- A separate controller for the AR headset. Its controller has large buttons for easy control even when riding bikes.
- Favorite for outdoor athletes and cyclers on the road, and mountain bikers. It uses an OLED-based projector system to provide the AR display.
- A long battery life up to 8 hours, HD front camera, different visor tints.
- Cheap compared to most AR smart glasses.
Cons: Not much applicable beyond outdoor athletics and cycling.
Rating: Scores a rating of 3.5/5
#7) ThirdEye Generation
- 42 degrees field of view. Resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels. 13MP camera for HD video and images.
- 3D tracking, image detection, occlusion, all-in-one SLAM solution.
- Many sensors, 2 wide-angle 13 MP cameras for better environmental mapping, dual noise-canceling mics, 32 GB storage.
- Users can share their points of view with others remotely via video communication. It features live audio for remote assistance applications.
- Compatible with many AR and VR apps developed with different platforms including Android Studio and Unity. The AR headset users can create VR and AR content using VisionEye SLAM SDK.
- A long battery life of up to 8 hours. Users can opt to use external batteries if they like.
- Small form factor, lightweight, and suitable for all working environments.
Cons: Pricy for commercial use. Small FOV–field of view.
Rating: Scores a rating of 2.5/5
Pricing: $1,950 through the ThirdEye Generation store.
#8) Kopin Solos
- 10.6 degrees field of view; 400 × 240 pixels resolution.
- Visual data displays, microphone and earphones for communicating–calls, listening to music, and monitoring the device with voice control, and audio guiding.
- Compatible with AR apps.
- A spare lens provided.
- Adjustable fit. Lightweight design.
- Mainly for sporting enthusiasts including cyclists, runners, and triathletes. It measures the user’s performance like time, speed, power, heart rate.
- Bluetooth sensors (BLE), ANT+ sensors, micro USB recharging port.
- 3-button tactile input, dual digital mics in a frame.
- Affordable price point, range of user performance trackers, a large variety of AR applications available for the device.
- Low cost compared with many AR smart glasses at this list.
- Limited 5-hour battery life.
- Limited field of view.
Rating: Scores a rating of 3/5
#9) Toshiba dynaEdge
- 1280 x 720 pixels resolution; 5 MP camera.
- Works with a Mini Windows 10 Pro PC with 3 processors, Intel Pentium and Intel Core.
- Built-in speaker, dual microphones, USB Type-C.
- 6 sensor types.
- Noise-canceling mics.
- 3 programmable control buttons allow the user to personalize on how to navigate the software.
- 4 different frame mount options.
- Weighs 47gms.
Pros: The AR glasses can be fitted over most traditional glasses and features noise-canceling effects.
Cons: Costly, and must be tethered on the mini PC to work.
Rating: Scores a rating of 2.5/5
Pricing: Costs $1,899; including all accessories at $2,399
#10) Snap Spectacles 3
- Snap Spectacles 3 captures 1216 x 1216 pixels videos; 2D is 105° of freedom, 3D is 86° of freedom.
- 4GB storage, built-in GPS, weighs 56.5gms.
- Compatible with iOS and Android.
- Two cameras to capture 3D at 60 fps.
- 4 built-in mics for recording spatial audio.
- Works by leveraging images from the two cameras to create a geometric map of the world around the user.
- Photos and videos sync with the Snapchat app. User can edit them in 3D.
- Share photos and videos on Snapchat, YouTube VR, etc.
- Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.
- Battery captures 70 videos per full charge.
- Ability to trade in earlier versions to get Spectacles 3.
- 30-days return.
- Too expensive for that simple use.
- Limited application.
Rating: Scores a rating of 2.5/5
Lenovo Mirage Star Wars Jedi Challenges, Mira Prism smartphone AR, K-Glass, Optinvent ORA-X wearable AR device in the form of headphones and with a retractable display. ICIS works with a smartphone–iOS and Android, and Windows through Bluetooth connectivity and allows users to browse through AR apps as widgets.
Suggested reading =>> Best Bluetooth Earphones in India
GlassUp, another headset, projects a display in your field of vision allowing you to read notifications, RSS feeds, sending and reading emails, or even acting as hearing aids. Atheer One displays 3D graphics in front of your eyes which you can interact with using hands and requires a smartphone connection to work.
How Do AR Smart Glasses Work
AR smart glasses are worn over the eyes like normal eyeglasses but unlike normal eyeglasses, work by generating and/or overlaying computer-generated or digital graphics, images, videos, animations, and three-dimensional holograms over the real-world scenes or environments seen by the user at their points of view to enhance the user’s vision.
- Unlike VR, augmented reality smart glasses do not replace the user’s environments or scenes with completely virtual ones but instead add 3D images on top of real-world environments to augment the user’s view.
- It may use a camera, sensors, or other environment or object identification technologies to identify a pre-loaded marker (image of the marker is pre-loaded on the app and so the camera searches for similar images in the user’s real-world scene) on which to overlay the pre-defined digital 3D images. These glasses may also use geolocation methods such as GPS or SLAM (algorithm-based simultaneous localization and mapping technology that also gets data from sensors) or two or all of the three combined to determine the user’s location and hence determine which user’s environments to overlay with digital 3D images or holograms.
It works as follows:
Applications Of Smart Glasses
Take the case of the popular PokeMon Go game where users can play and take snaps with Pokemons on their real-world spaces.
#2) Maintenance and repair, remote assistance, and troubleshooting
This is a very competent use case of VR and AR headsets because engineers can assist mechanics remotely to do complicated and advanced installations and repairs on factory floors without the engineer having to travel or saving their time. With or without AR headsets, these can remotely collaborate by using live videos, chat, and AR annotations to explain what needs to be explained in the process.
#3) Education, learning, classroom-based and virtual learning
AR apps allow the displaying of historical sites with data and facts overlaid to students in the learning process. Virtual AR educational visits are also possible to help students explore sites with teachers explaining facts and figures, enabling them to learn Geography, History, Religion, and many other courses/subjects; not mentioning what AR can do for virtual learning.
#4) Virtual tourism
Customers can walk through historical sites with facts and figures overlaid on top of these, without even having the tourist to the site, or before shopping. Applications played on AR headsets can look up data, facts, and figures about these sites from online databases. Some apps can pre-view history looks of historical sites and show how they looked, say over 100 years ago.
Virtual AR displays in front of combat pilots display real-time flight info such as altitude, airspeed, and horizon line. Ground troops can get on their visual screens, real-time data about enemy location, etc. It is also employed in simulated military training.
#6) Medical training and education
Augmented Reality and AR smart glasses are being used to practice surgery where visualizations help explain complex procedures and terms and practices. It may or may not be combined with X-ray and MRI imaging methods.
AR displays can display routes and locations in real-time.
#8) Advertisement and promotion
AR headsets, devices, and AR smart glasses can be used with applications that allow for exploring restaurants, businesses, etc. near the user. AR ads can also be overlaid on the user’s view on ad platforms.
Recommended reading =>> Latest AR Examples
This AR smart glasses tutorial teaches about augmented reality headset, mainly about how they work and what main options you can have out there as a buyer or someone who is hoping to manufacture or sell and is doing some research.
We dwelt on different Augmented Reality Glasses including tethered, smartphone-based, PC-based, and wireless AR smart glasses.
If you want the top of the notch AR experiences, then you would be better with more expensive devices like the HoloLens 2, Moverio BT-300, Magic Leap 2, and the Google Glass Edition 2. Lower quality experiences are possible at much lower costs with the smartphone AR devices. Nevertheless, the device you want depends on the target application.
Otherwise, all the options discussed in this tutorial have a lot of AR content readily available to enjoy.