To See or Not to See? It's Time to Focus on AR Glasses

Augmented Reality (AR) pioneer and Intel Corporation Research Manager Ronald Azuma has said that the current most important challenge of the field is to develop useful and meaningful consumer-ready AR that goes beyond the gimmick. At the recent Electronic Imagining 2018 conference, Azuma also said that we should re-frame the challenge with AR headsets and glasses by seeing their design as an opportunity to help consumers see better.

At just under 53 minutes, Azuma’s presentation is an investment in time, but a highly recommended one whether you are an AR newcomer, user, developer or anything in between.

You can watch it here. You can also get a good overview of it via this Next Reality article.

In researching virtual reality (VR) for months, I have also had to keep up on the AR field, as you can’t talk about one without the other even though they are so different – they face similar issues. Azuma’s presentation had the clearest and most to the point information that I have come across yet. Also appealing is how down-to-earth Azuma is about the topic. So often, you hear the exaggerated marketing talk of “the best” this or “the breakthrough” that or the “real game-changer”. Azuma leaves the superlatives out speaks in a language that even non-technical people can understand.

It is getting more and more important for even the layperson to understand the potential of AR and how far it can go beyond the Pokémon Go experience.

Azuma talks about the importance and benefits of AR use for companies for training and marketing and uses that do not even exist yet. But if AR only gets picked up in the world of industry and enterprise then it will remain niche, he says. He talks about consumer uses such as creating personal stories, with his wedding as an example. He takes us to the gazebo he got married in and imagines using AR to fill it in with memories. The power of being able to fill in real spaces with meaningful objects that you can interact with could really appeal to the consumer. Azuma sees AR’s potential to connect people with everyday spaces in a personal, often small-scale, yet spectacular way.

Whether for AR or VR, the biggest complaints always come down to the headsets, the glasses, the cables and the gadgets, among other issues such as field of vision, light reflection, quality of image and so forth. Every time I put on a shared headset, I have to admit; I get kind of grossed out by the eye smears and sweat left behind by someone else on the glass and the fabric. My multifocal glasses become malformed and blurry every time I have to adjust the glasses or program, which unfortunately is a lot (but that’s for another post).

What really caught my eye in Azuma’s speech was his way of gently bursting the bubble of the AR glasses problem. Convinced that there is currently no other possibility than some sort of glasses for AR use, Azuma decides to go with it rather than fight against it. He cleverly reminds us that we use goggles for swimming; ski glasses for skiing; protective glasses on the work floor; reading glasses for reading and other glasses for other purposes. It makes you wonder why we are fighting so much against glasses in the AR world. Azuma seems to say that, at least for now, it’s time we adjust our mindset, remove all of that negativity about glasses and embrace and promote them –while improving them and everything else about AR as well, of course.

While lenses for AR placed directly on our eyes sound ideal, Azuma says we are nowhere near being able to make and market those as the expense is too big and different eyesight prescriptions make it almost impossible, at least at the moment.

Why not change our view and start to imagine our own personalized sets of AR glasses with only our eye smears and sweat on them, adjusted to our own specific eyesight?

As with most things, it’s all how you sell it. Perhaps it’s time to put the focus on how cool all these new AR glasses are going to be. Google Glasses tried and failed and created a kind of stigma around anything that might resemble them. Don’t be surprised if we end up with something that looks quite similar though hopefully works a lot better.

Speaking of AR glasses, or rather mixed-reality (MR) ones, the mysterious Magic Leap is still one of the glasses manufacturers that everyone is keeping their eye on. They promise a magical user experience through speaking to our “visual cortex” in a “biologically friendly way,” according to their CEO. But how? You may wonder. Well, check out this article via Next Reality to see what is included in the recent Magic Leap patent application. The question remains, as posed by many, if there’s more to Magic Leap than meets the eye.

by Sarah Markewich – SIVAR project intern spring 2018


Are VR & AR Tools Under your Company's Radar?

There is always a lot of discussion of when and how AR and VR will finally take off. Some say it is in the process already and others predict 20 years from now. These conversations always come back to headsets, cables and content, among other things that get in the way of a seamless user experience. One thing for sure is that businesses should pay attention to VR and AR trends.

Through my current internship at Howest DAE for the SIVAR project and my VUB master thesis focus on VR in the journalism field, I have been trying out different headsets, content and immersive experiences, and watching and reading about other users’ experiences as well.

When I recently saw mention of the new Asus Windows VR Headset with a flip-up visor, I got excited because it seems like a good direction to head in to allow users to jump back and forth between being present and immersed. One of the aspects I both love and hate about some of the headsets I have used so far is that you can totally lose track of where you are and not even realize there are people in the room right next to you. That might be fun for gaming or truly immersive experiences but it seems and feels unsafe and uncomfortable for a work environment, especially one that involves training.

Speaking of training, it appears to be the part of AR and VR that are already starting to take off. Consumers are more aware of VR thanks to the gaming market but only really know AR via things like Pokemon Go. For CIOs and CTOs, according to a recent article in TechRepublic, awareness of VR and AR as training tools is essential. In that article, J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, says that businesses have to keep VR and AR tools under their radar, especially when it comes to training. In the same article, Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, says that it is essential to consider which problems VR and AR tools can help solve rather than just to start guessing and trying.

Nguyen also says that task itemization, design and collaboration and video guidance are the top three uses for such technology for enterprises right now. High-risk training situations take precedence as well. In the TechRepublic article, he points out that investing in technology has to make or save a company money to make sense. CIOs, he says, should be expecting cost savings through augmented and virtual training that leads to fewer accidents and mistakes and better accuracy.

In a recent White Paper I wrote about how journalists should approach virtual reality, my conclusion was that the absolute least they should do is to keep a good eye on it and what their colleagues and competitors are doing with it – that the days of simply ignoring it are over. That seems to ring true for many fields. If you want to stay on the cutting edge and remain competitive, as Gownder said, you need to keep AR and VR tools under your radar.

And if you are a headset developer, please keep working out how to go wireless and use flip-up visors or something, anything, that makes the real world and the virtual and augmented ones easier to enter and leave, especially when it comes to training situations on the work floor.

Check out this video discussing the state of  AR and VR in both consumer and business technology.

For more information about the flip-up Asus and how TechRepublic sees it, look here: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/asus-takes-ar-to-the-enterprise-with-flip-up-windows-mixed-reality-headset/

For more insights into the use of VR and AR for training, read this: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/are-ar-and-vr-training-technologies-ready-for-the-enterprise

by Sarah Markewich - SIVAR project intern spring 2018


Changi Airport gebruikt AR brillen om het werk op de luchthaven te versnellen.

De luchthaven van Singapore is aan de slag gegaan met AR brillen om het werk van onder meer de bagageladers efficiënter te maken.
Ongeveer 600 werknemers van SATS krijgen een augmented reality bril die informatie toont zoals laad instructies, gewicht van een pakket etc. Momenteel moeten laders papieren met richtlijnen en gegevens raadplegen waardoor ze hun handen niet vrij hebben en tijd verliezen.
Het systeem maakt gebruik van QR codes die op de pakketten kleven.
Volgens SATS zal dit de laadtijden kunnen verminderen van 60 minuten naar ongeveer 45 minuten.

Op onderstaande link kan je het volledige artikel bekijken.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ground-handlers-at-changi-airport-to-get-smart-glasses-to-help-9187596


De R-7HL AR bril, augmented reality voor in de werkplek

AR brillen zijn niet goedkoop. Om de brillen ook te implementeren in een werkomgeving moet naast de software ontwikkelingskosten ook een hardware en onderhoud kost in rekening gebracht worden. De meeste brillen nu op de markt zijn ook niet voorzien voor de harde condities die we in een werkplaats terugvinden.

Het in San Francisco gebaseerde ODG, Osterhout Design Group, heeft hun R7 AR-bril aangepast voor de werkplek omgeving. Het nieuwe model werd hiervoor door een rigoureus "Hazardous Locations" testproces gehaald en afgetoetst op stof, spat, druk, temperatuur, schok en vibratie variabelen. Uit dat proces komt de gecertificeerde R-7HL. Met de nieuwe voorzieningen word het nieuwe model verkondigd als DE oplossing voor mensen in de zwaardere olie, energie, farma en chemische industrie. Het model kan nu momenteel besteld worden op de online ODG winkel.