There are several applications for augmented reality technology. Entertainment obviously, because playing games with AR on a smartphone can be a lot of fun. However, the most potential lies in professional use, with smartglasses for remote assistance being just one example.
What devices are currently available and how do they stand out from the rest? On this page we will list the most popular devices and how they stack up against the competition. From operating system to weight and battery life, what are the best AR headsets on the market?
What is remote assistance?
When devices and tasks are checked, controlled and guided from an external location we speak of remote assistance. This could be a helpdesk operator telling you to switch the computer off and on again, it can also involve sophisticated software.
AR remote assistance is an advanced form of decentralised collaboration, where the communication between professionals and audiovisual information is the key to success. Contact the experts for custom advice and tailor made solutions.
A rocky start
It would not be fair to say that AR glasses are a dime a dozen, but there are a considerable amount of options. In emerging markets such as these, there will be successes and failures, and the winners are not always obvious from the start.
ODG (Osterhout Design Group) was a major player in augmented reality products, long before the current crop of brands and devices. As an experienced company with clients such as the US army in their portfolio they sure had the required expertise.
The first few devices were sleek in design and promising in specifications. However, in 2019 ODG was no longer ‘reality’ and went bankrupt.
It was heavily speculated whether Microsoft would ever release a new HoloLens mixed reality headset, which they actually did. It will not be a cash cow, however it will help grow the industry. The same applies to Google Glass, the infamous failure as a consumer product has received a second life in an Enterprise Edition.
Speaking of failures, the last entry on the list below has not been able to deliver on their promises. The Magic Leap 1 sold about 6000 units instead of 100.000 planned units. That’s not a great look for this hyped 4+ billion dollar company.
Meanwhile, established brands like Toshiba release impressive products without much fanfare. This means it’s important for professionals to examine all the available options, and separate the best ‘wear’ from the vaporware.
So without further ado here’s our list of the best AR headsets and AR smartglasses for AR remote assistance … and some lesser candidates.
This compact AR headset features a monocular LCD screen with a 20 degree Field of View. The device runs on the Android platform. This device weighs
380 grams with a battery life of 5 up to 12 hours. It’s possible to use the HMT-1 with regular glasses, and in combination with safety glasses and helmets. The adjustable band allows for continuous use without strain on the head.
The speech recognition is especially solid, which makes this device very suitable for the workfloor. It’s possible to install Android APK files for customization.
2. Vuzix Blade
If you’re looking for a device that resembles a regular pair of glasses the Vuzix Blade comes pretty close. With merely 85 grams in weight and a more traditional frame, this device is comfortable to wear for a prolonged time.
Therefore it’s unfortunate that the battery life of the Blade is 2 to 8 hours max. There had to be sacrifices made and the battery is clearly a weaker point of this sleek looking product. The 8MP camera with 720p video mode is fine however, and the 8GB internal memory is expandable.
Keep in mind the Vuzix Blade is tethered to a smartphone, so it’s not a standalone device. This does make app management a bit easier compared to some other options on this list.
3. Vuzix M300XL
Unlike the previous entry this Vuzix product is a fully standalone device, which is quite an accomplishment considering the 150 grams weight. The design does push a bit hard on the ears though, which can lead to some discomfort during a longer session.
The operating time ranges from 4 to 12 hours, which is pretty good. The Android based operating system can be navigated with both a touchpad in the frame and by voice-control. The last option does not work very well though, so for a true hands free operation the M300XL should not be your first pick.
The Vuzix store is first in class though, and the device is very convenient to use.
4. Vuzix M400
This is the most expensive Vuzix product listed here, with a battery life of 6 to 12 hours and a dedicated remote control unit the higher price tag seems to be warranted. Also the 12 MP camera, high quality autofocus and built-in flash are premium features that will certainly increase productivity.
The added controller makes operating this system particularly intuitive, and it compliments the accessible app store very well. The Achilles heel is again the poor implementation of voice control, that isn’t nearly as intuitive as it should be. With 190 grams it’s a bit heavier compared to the M300XL model.
This item is in a league of its own, which translates to a considerably higher purchase price compared to most entries on this list. With 335 grams of weight and a battery duration of merely 4 hours this is not an augmented reality headset that is designed for all-day wear.
This product shines in use, the gaze based system is intuitive and offers a true hands free operation. The binocular design offers a stereoscopic 3D image with perceived depth, and the glasses come with a seperate processing unit which adds considerable computing power to this device.
The Linux based Daqri VOS operating system is proprietary, which means standard apps can not be used.
6. Toshiba DynaEdge
We can safely say this device is an engineering marvel, with 50 grams of weight and a 6 hour average battery life. This device runs on the Windows 10 operating system, which could be beneficial for software development.
The diminutive weight creates a comfortable experience, however a supplied computing unit is required for operation. The built-in touchpad is responsive, but the navigation buttons do not work in all available apps.
Apart from the high quality screen the camera is also very capable. This pair of AR glasses is suitable for remote assistance and can handle copious amounts of data.
7. Epson Moverio bt-300
The number is not the only similarity with the Vuzix M300XL, the form factor and technical specifications also remind us of that other AR headset.
With 238 grams this is not the lightest but also not the heaviest option, the most outstanding feature is the standard controller which makes navigation easy and comfortable. The way the lenses are designed can lead to reflections which in some situations can lead to discomfort.
The Moverio apps are well done which makes for a good user experience. The camera is well suited for photos, there is 16 GB memory on-board.
8. Google Glass Enterprise Edition
The front-runner of augmented reality glasses is back with an all-new edition geared at hands free operation and remote assistance. The battery life is not optimal with 2 to 8 hours, the design however is very close to an actual pair of spectacles.
It should come as no surprise that Google Glass Enterprise Edition features the most advanced Android system on this list. Android Oreo in fact, which makes it easy to use APK files on this device.
In terms of hardware specifications this version of Glass does lag behind the competition, it could do with an upgrade in this regard.
9. Microsoft HoloLens
Although this product is quite a bit different from the others on this list, it does warrant a spot in this top ten. Perhaps in particular for the remote assistance options.
Skype is a Microsoft product and the HoloLens runs on the Windows 10 operating system. Just like the Daqri we mentioned before, and the Magic Leap 1 below, this dual lens design creates a stereoscopic 3D image.
In terms of processing power this headset is certainly among the most impressive, it’s also the largest product by far. Do note there is a second edition HoloLens available now, the successor to the first mixed reality headset on the market.
10. Magic Leap 1
Just like the HoloLens the Magic Leap 1 offers a superior image fidelity, which makes it more suitable for creative use than industry applications or logistics. This is the long awaited first product from the multi-billion startup Magic Leap, as a brand they are still relatively unknown.
Technologically this device is impressive, the major problem is a lack of useful applications. In order to maintain a lightweight device the 1 is sold with an additional processing unit.
With about 3.5 hours of use it’s not an all-day device, but within certain fields it could prove to be a worthwhile addition. The proprietary Lumin OS requires specific knowledge to code for.
So, what are the best AR glasses?
As you can tell, there’s no clear winner here. Some headsets are incredibly lightweight, others are very powerful. The prices range from below 1000 euros but run up to 5000 euros.
Some devices work completely standalone while others require a separate processing unit. Even though the Magic Leap 1 can be considered a flop so far, the mere ambition elevates this particular mixed reality headset to a special device.
In fact, there’s no best option, just better products for particular applications. Therefore it’s important to ask for advice and decide in which way augmented reality technology will benefit your organisation.
Contact us today to discuss your use case