The latest smart glasses effort from the printer and imaging specialist is a consumer-bound pair of techy eyewear to rival the likes of Google Glass. Projecting a 16:9 image onto a lens-based screen, the Epson Moverio BT-200 is capable of generating a semi-transparent picture to fall within your field of vision. We’ve gone hands-on at CES 2014 to see if smart glasses really are the future or just a load of techy fluff.
Whereas Google Glass looks svelte and cool in its appearance, the Epson Moverio BT-200 eyewear has the aesthetic of some smart glasses of old – plastic, a little cheap looking and rather chunky.
Despite their size, the glasses are not heavy or uncomfortable on the head, with an adjustable rubber nose grip letting you customise the fit, or even make room for your prescription glasses, a feature Google Glass is still struggling with.
During our first play with the device, the Moverio quickly came to feel very natural. That said, the tethered connection to the necessary Android-based touch panel hosting computer became something of an irritant from time to time, pulling the glasses and causing a general faff.
Sadly for a device that will set you back $700 (£426), the Epson Moverio BT-200 does not feature a design we can see too many users wanting to break out in public.
Epson Moverio BT-200: Features
With a miniaturised LCD-based projector capable of throwing an image on to a lens-based binocular display, the Epson Moverio BT-200 creates a semi-transparent full colour image with a 960 x 540 pixel resolution and a multimedia-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio.
With a number of apps having already been developed for the headgear, and more already in the works, the Moverio can generate a 360-degree panoramic experience, a feature that sees the glasses line up as something of a halfway house between Google Glass and the gaming-centric Oculus Rift.
These panorama producing apps utilise the glasses’ integrated gyroscope and accelerometer to create augmented reality gaming.
The Epson Moverio BT-200 is powered by Android 4.0, is Bluetooth 3.0 compatible, allowing to basic connectivity options to other devices. On top of this, in built Dolby Digital audio helps generate a more immersive user experience for multimedia consumption.
On first use, the Epson BT-200 is a mixed bag. At this stage it feels very much like a concept as the glasses produce an image that is a little washy and lacks the sort of crisp definition and resolution sharpness we would like to see.
While we understand this is a side effect of the desired image transparency, it means the eyewear will always be closer to a time-to-time gimmick more than a viable replacement to watching a film on a tablet or using a laptop to browse an image gallery.
On the plus side, the screen size generated by the glasses can get pretty huge when standing clear of nearby obstructions. What’s more, launch a game that makes use of your surrounds – for instance having augmented reality spacecraft attacking from all angles – and the Moverio BT-200 comes into its own.
In this respect it feels far more like a more mobile version of Oculus Rift, and just like it the Moverio BT-200 has the potential to do things for gaming the Wii and Xbox One's Kinect can only dream of.
A step forward in the company’s smart glasses efforts, the Epson Moverio BT-200 has not convinced us just yet as the future of techy eyewear. That said, during our hands-on with the device, the gaming capabilities brought the headset into its own and have left us looking forward to another trial and future versions of this concept.