Which is the best smart glasses for your business?
The adoption of smart glass technology for the industry is on the rise as companies start to recognize the advantages of wearable technology on the factory floor or in the field. Hands-free assistance using Augmented Reality or voice control brings increased productivity for the company and better safety and convenience for the worker.
This increased popularity has brought more choices to the marketplace, both in terms of hardware and software, with dozens of makes and models to satisfy all requirements. So, which one to choose? When making an investment like this in your business, it’s important to make the right choice to ensure the technology does the job you want it to do and is implemented successfully. In this article, we will explore some of the key considerations when choosing your smart glasses and the software that goes with them.
Assessing your work environment
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on smart glasses is the environment where the glasses will be used. Industrial environments can be punishing, so the hardware needs to be able to withstand whatever is thrown at them to keep working and protect the user. Some of these may include:
- Lighting – Lighting conditions can affect the camera’s shooting and scanning capabilities and the quality of the AR elements. If the glasses need to be operated in poorly lit areas, it should be ensured that the camera’s specs are up to the task.
- Ambient Noise – If relying on voice-controlled devices or text-to-speech functionality, glasses with noise-canceling features should be considered. In addition, if other noise-canceling headphones or safety muffs need to be worn, they will need to be compatible with the device. For example, with Iristick G2 and Epson Moverio, this combination is not as easy as with RealWear and Vuzix.
- Water and Dust – Look for glasses with the corresponding IP rating to ensure appropriate resistance to dust, dirt, and moisture.
- Ambient temperature – In cold storage, steel production, or other work environments with extreme temperatures it’s important to choose smart glasses that are built to withstand them.
- Explosion risk – In certain environments which may be at risk of explosion, smart glasses that comply with ATEX-certified safety regulations should be chosen.
Assessing the safety and comfort of the wearer
Once you have assessed the specific environmental considerations of the workspace where the equipment will be used, you should then think about the comfort and convenience of the wearer. It’s important to get buy-in from the workforce to ensure the project’s success.
01. Weight and fit
How much the glasses weigh and whether they can be adjusted for face shape are important things to consider when choosing the right model. The most lightweight and comfortable models are Google Glass, Iristick G2, Vuzix M400, and M4000 which all come in at under 100g.
More high-performance and feature-rich models, such as RealWear, can weigh 3-5 times more than the lightweight models but are usually attached to a hard hat. Between these two, there is the Epson BT-35E which weighs only 183g but includes a solution pack that adds another 119g to the overall weight.
02. Use with eyeglasses or safety glasses
Some models are made to be worn with eyeglasses e.g. RealWear, Iristick H1, Vuzix, while others can have graded lenses fitted to them, for example, the Iristick G2, which is also certified as safety glasses. Other models such as the Epson cannot be worn with additional glasses at all.
03. Use with hardhat
Assessing the features and functionality
Once you have established all the key requirements related to your work environment and workforce, you can make some decisions about the model specifications you are looking for.
Some glasses include a heads-up display (HUD) which overlays information onto a screen in the user’s field of vision. Holographic displays allow for a more immersive experience, with the ability to view objects in 3D.
02. Controller type
Smart glasses technology can be operated either via a touchpad e.g. Epson Moverio and Google Glass, or hands-free – either using voice control such as with RealWear, Iristick, or Vuzix, or using gestures such as with HoloLens. Hands-free controls are particularly useful for workers who need to operate machinery.
03. Screen type
Smart glasses offer the choice between monocular or binocular screen types. Monocular or single-screen glasses are less intrusive and allow the user to work hands-free without distraction, although the reduced screen size can make it more difficult to view smaller objects. The expanded field of view afforded by a binocular screen, which covers both eyes and allows for an immersive experience, has more impact on the real-life visibility of the user as they will be able to see objects right before their eyes.
Available lens technology includes the Bug-eye, the Birdbath, and the Waveguide, each coming at a different price point, design, and resolution quality.
05. Battery life
Just like with any mobile device, the battery life of your smart glasses is important for ensuring that they can be used for the time period necessary to complete the task. Some devices allow “hot-swapping”, which means you can replace the battery without interrupting the work of the wearer
06. Operating System
The OS of your smart glasses depends on the manufacturer, with Android being the most widely available. Apple’s iOS is only available with Iristick and Microsoft only with HoloLens.
Most smart glasses will require a connection to a computer system to operate when in use. These tools may also require Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to link to other devices.
While the cost of smart glass technology is usually justifiable due to the multiple benefits they bring, there is a cost involved and not all projects need the most high-spec equipment.
Assessing the available software
More often than not, smart glasses come with basic software solutions from manufacturers, which means you will need to choose specific and appropriate software that best supports your workplace use cases. Whether you need to manage workflows, provide instructions or training, connect remote operators, or create collaborative workspaces, your chosen software application must be compatible with your chosen hardware.
Buying from a trusted vendor means you have support when selecting and rolling out your solution. Acty is the video remote assistance software compatible with most smart glasses in the market and offers the following industry-leading features:
- Remote guidance with annotations – Augmented Reality functions that allow more precise tracking in drawing and direction are a huge advantage for remote assistance.
- Instant Translation – Translation of voice and text in more than 100 languages means you can communicate seamlessly with customers or colleagues from across the globe.
- QR Code – The QRCode allows you to quickly display the information of the machine you want to service and share it with customers.
- Bandwidth Management – Acty ensures you never lose your connection, even when connectivity is low, by letting you reduce the bandwidth or pause the video while keeping the audio connection with the technician.
- White Labeling – Choose to remove all mention of Acty, or just add company colors and branding to give you a ready-made customized remote assistance app.
Introducing smart glass technology to your business can be a game-changer, but choosing the right model the first time is key to ensuring that the project is successful.