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Ok Glass… What are SmartGlasses?

In the previous post, we discussed how google glass (more specifically Smartglasses) will reform education. Today I thought it would be beneficial to talk about the smartglass race as a whole.  Google currently is the frontrunner in the smartglasses race, however there are multiple other smartglass technologies that are being developed by MANY large name (and smaller name) companies.  Today we will look through some of the upcoming Smartglass technologies and elaborate on their uses in the SmartGlass classroom; and give you some positive buying points for the future.


Lets start up with Google Glass:

Product: Google Glass

Price: $1,500

Timing: Available now

Features:  Google Glass is the wearable SmartGlass used for real time information updates and FPV videos (also known as flipped classroom model).  Google developed these smartglasses for short bite size pieces of information to connect the user with their world, while keeping them in touch with everything else.  Google Glass is a great piece of technological advancement that can be used in many contexts of education, while allowing the educator and student to be connected with the classroom.

Display: High-resolution display equivalent to a 25-inch HD screen from eight feet away (with a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels). Google Glass allows the user quick glances at information, and connects the user to the HUGE database of Google to access information.  The display gives the user a CLEAR and CONCISE screen for ALL the information you will need on the fly.  Users with prescription glasses can have lenses fitted for Google Glass by a provider, or through specific Google purchased frames.  Even without lenses, users with prescriptions should be able to clearly see all the information on the high resolution Micro-display.


Operating System: This product uses the operating system Android KitKat 4.4, and connects directly with Android Wear platforms. It is heavily modified for the small display and limited input options. This operating system and connection will allow the user access to Google’s large and developing database of applications or GlassWare.  In the near future, there will be an extremely LARGE grouping of education GlassWare for Google Glass and with KitKat it will open new avenues for Glass in education.


Camera:  Google glass touts a camera that can take 5 megapixel photos and 720p videos.  This gives educators an easy hands free way of first person videos and implementing the “flipped classroom model.”  In addition to videography, this 5 megapixel camera can and will open doors of direct contact with Augmented Reality.  (Interactive Augmentation )

Speaker/Audio: Google Glass also has an ingenious bone conduction transducer for audio, and to date is the only smartglasses that contain a technology as such.  This means the sound is conducted through the bone of the jaw and then heard by the user.  Google Glass has accessories for stereo headphones and mono-headphones to connect via the micro USB port on the side of glass.  The multiple choices for audio output gives the teacher the ability to accommodate the needs of specific students in the classroom.


Wireless Connectivity:   For wireless connectivity Google Glass has an 802.11b/g WiFi chip and battery sipping Bluetooth.  This allows the user to connect WIRELESSLY with different devices, and gives a hands free experience unlike most of its kind.  This hands free user experience will help teachers manage, teach, and assess their classrooms on the fly.


Battery/Storage/Processor:  Glass has 12GB of usable memory, which is more than enough space for the everyday user.  Glass also connects to the user’s Google Cloud services so storage is expanded exponentially.   The battery lasts for a day under typical use. The battery lasts for about 40 minutes in recording mode and works with external battery packs for longer recording. It charges in about 2-3 hours. However, it is suggested to charge glass within range of a wireless network overnight, because Google Glass will automatically update to the latest software when in these conditions. Google Glass also comes equipped with a dual core processor equivalent to that of the Nexus Family of smartphones, and 2 GBs of RAM.

Lets look now at the Epson Moverio BT-200:




Product: Moverio BT-200 smart glasses

Price: $700

Timing: Available Now      Epson Moverio


Features:  The Epson Moverio BT-200s, as mentioned in the article as the BT-200s, are a great piece of technology for the classroom.  These transparent display glasses are great for educators in terms of Augmented Reality and full screen display activities.  The BT-200s are great to work alongside the classroom activities to supplement materials and build upon educational subjects being taught.


    Display: The Moverio has a dual screen for a 3D, transparent display (with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels) and hovers in the users view at a 23 degree field of view.  This means that the user directly sees a 40” display at about 8 feet away.  In a sense, the users has a transparent Oculus Rift style view allowing the user to view entire websites with Augmented Reality, while being connected with the world beyond the glass. (Oculus Rift Video) By having such a large, and high resolution, display the educator can give students a true full immersive experience into Augmented Reality. The device has a 3D mode supporting side by side 3D. In addition to AR, education could use this technology to place students outside the classroom, while sitting at their desks.  Students could interact with fellow classmates and educators from around the world while continuing to work in their own environment. In use, the best way to describe the Moverio experience is like looking at the picture of a landscape-orientation tablet held out in front of you.


Operating System:  Epson BT-200s are running Android 4.0.4, which means the UI is just the same as an Ice Cream Sandwich slate.  Think of an android tablet or cell phone, only you have the landscape screen floating over reality.  It also has a tethered handheld device attached which allows you to navigate by swiping your finger across the textured trackpad and moving an on-screen cursor.  This will allow the user to control minute tasks and OS features without having to speak selections.  In a classroom setting, this can accommodate all students, and gives a sense of control over a complete operating system.  Think of controlling your tablet or cell phone without having to look down. The OS (operating system) on Epson will give access to the Google Play Store and the Epson Moverio Market, which will open new doors to accessing apps for education.


Camera:  The camera on the Epson BT-200s, while not noted, is used for motion tracking and identification.  This means the user will be able to interact with Augmented reality content in real time, or the BT-200s will identify an object and overlay an image for users to see in real time changed reality.


Speaker/Audio: Epson BT-200s have a tether attached to the lenses with an in-line mic and 3.5mm headphone jack.  This allows the Epson BT-200s the ability to access its built in dolby surround sound features.  In the educational realm, this will give teachers and students access to videos, sounds, and audio clips to describe certain aspects of lessons without interrupting other students.  In correlation with the camera a student would be able to read a text and reach a selected page to scan with the SmartGlasses.  The Glasses would recognize this page and pop up a video and dolby surround video regarding the topic they are reading about, giving more indepth descriptions.


Wireless Connectivity:   Epson BT-200s have a tethered box/cell phone that has a compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer.  This controller also gets GPS, while there’s a microphone in the headset. Connectivity includes WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, and a microUSB port. Volume and power controls are on the side of the box/cell phone dongle.  While truly not “wireless” since it is connected to the SmartGlasses, the BT-200s do have access to more processing power and more accurate GPS locations while connected.
Battery/Storage/Processing:  The previously mentioned tethered box other, roughly the size of a smartphone contains a TI OMAP 4460 1.2GHz dual core processor with 1GB of memory, 8GB of storage, and a microSD slot for up to 32GB cards. Where a phone would have a touchscreen, however, the Epson has a trackpad, above the familiar Menu, Home, and Back buttons for Android.   The battery on Epson Moverio BT-200s last about 4-6 hours with standard use, and will recharge in about the same length of time.

Thank you to +Timothy Clemans for a great discussion and review of the article.


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