InsideAR 2013 – Head Mounted Displays are Entering the Arena

This year, the biggest Augmented Reality fair in Europe, the InsideAR, took place again in Munich. Metaio, hosting the event, but also Metaio’s competitors and related partners used this platform to present the newest gadgets, successful application cases, and prototypes that will be released in the near future. While smartphones and tablet PCs became well established devices in the last five years to serve as handheld windows into Augmented Reality worlds, now, head worn devices, allowing for augmented views from the natural perspective, the user’s eyes, enter the arena. Google Glass is most probably the most popular and promoted example of this new type of personal displays. However, there are many more players in the field, that already came up and will come up in the close future with very interesting Augmented Reality goggles – lightweight, comfortable, and good looking.

Google Glass in its standard configuration only allows embedding a small virtual, semi-transparent 2D display into the field of view of one of the user’s eyes that shows 2D information, e.g. text messages, images or videos. For this reason, I won’t consider Google’s very first approach of combining real and virtual information as Augmented Reality but rather a personal info display that remains accessbile in the field of view of the user. However, Metaio presented a first prototype app that goes one step further and shows a video in the mentioned display replaying the camera captured user’s view. The video is then augmented with virtual objects, in the demo case by virtual arrows that guide the wearer of Google Glass to refill fluids in the engine compartment of a car.

With respect to medical applications, we talked to Dan Cui representative of the company Vuzix, one of the most advanced Augmented Reality enabling HMD manufacturers, who exhibited existing devices and prototypes at InsideAR. The interview will be available soon.