If you’ve been intrigued with Google’s Project Glass, the Epson Moverio BT-100 may just offer a glimpse of what wearable computing could entail in the future.
First conceived by Steve Mann and developed further at the MIT Media Lab, wearable computing is touted to change the way we interact with computers. Rather than having machines perform task-oriented functions initiated by users for a small fraction of a day, wearable computers will interact with us based on the context of the situation.
So, if you’re on your way to Somerset to catch a train to Orchard, a wearable computer can notify you just as you are about to enter the station that there’s going to be a train delay. It will then suggest that you walk to your destination, and guide you along the way.
To be sure, the Moverio BY-100 does none of that. In its current incarnation, it is simply a pair of glasses that offers an Android computing experience through a headset and touchpad controller.
Epson is pitching the Android-based Moverio BT-100 as a personal Wi-Fi-enabled media player that you can use on a flight or in bed without disturbing your spouse. The Japanese projector and printer giant is also targeting airlines, which can potentially offer these devices as alternatives to existing in-flight entertainment systems.
In a quick hands-on at a launch event yesterday, the Moverio BT-100 proved to a competent media viewer. It uses micro projectors to create a perceived image size of 80 inches at five meters away with a resolution of 960×540 pixels. You can adjust its screen brightness, or slot in removable shades if you want to block out what’s in front or you and focus on the movie.
There’s a 3-D mode too, though the visual effect in the demo clips did not come across as strongly as it should be.
Navigating the Android 2.2 menu system using the single-touch touchpad and directional keys will not come across as intuitive for most folks already used to a touch screen. It is clumsy at times, and takes longer than usual to fire up a webpage, browse pictures or type on the onscreen keyboard.
The Moverio BT-100 does not come with Google Play, as Google has deemed it to be neither a phone nor a tablet, according to Epson executives. That means you’d have to sideload all your apps, if you intend to even use it as an Android device at all.
On top of its 1GB built-in memory, you also have access to a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack for hooking up your own headphones.
Retailing at S$999 from selected Best Denki stores from July 23 onwards, the Moverio BT-100 has a steep price sticker. Unless you really dig the 3-D experience, you are better off watching your movies on a cheaper tablet.
That’s not to say the Moverio BT-100 will not find its footing in the market. Its true potential lies in augmented reality applications, which we saw none of at the launch event, and contextual computing, which senses that we are stuck in heavy traffic and dials home to inform our families that we’re running late for dinner.
Surely, that’s more useful than transplanting a phone or tablet onto a pair of shades.