How to Choose the Right AR Headset
Augmented Reality glasses come at different price points, with different weights, sizes and form factors. When you decide to implement an industrial Augmented Reality project, choosing the right AR glasses for your organisation has a great importance. We have put together a few quick guidelines on what to consider before choosing the right glasses to run a successful industrial AR project.
Heads-up Display or Fixed to a Point in Space or Other Object
A very exciting capability in AR relates to fixing virtual graphics to a point in space or to another object. This could mean that a label sits above a real-world object (such as a persons or an assets name sitting above them in space), a 3D graphic is overlaid on a real world object (such as a virtual cup of coffee left on a table) or a virtual graphicinteracts with a r eal-world object (such as a virtual ball bouncing on a real world table. The key features are that the glasses must recognise the real world items and then remember where they are relative to the wearer, so when the virtual object stays in position when the wearer moves their head.
These are all very exciting capabilities, and should be applied when appropriate. On the other hand, simple heads up display of information is simpler, less immersive, and can be preferable for some applications. Where an application is based on the idea of providing heads up display of information to an operator, the application is simple and relatively inexpensive to produce as well as the content being easy to create. The hardware is also cheaper and lighter.
ATEX, Safety Glass and Other Industrial Requirements
Some workplaces require ATEX rated or safety glasses for H&S reasons. As you would expect, this reduces the number of options available, though it can be done. That said the
value that is created by using the technology in these places is often much higher.
Comfort Requirements and Suitability for the Wearer - Weight
Comfort is an important decision factor when choosing a headset or glasses. In the event that the wearer will be using it for a long period of time, comfort is important. In addition, battery life is important when the device will be in use for an extended period of time, though in many cases a larger battery and comfort for long-term wear do not work well together.
Battery life in AR headsets/glasses varies significantly depending on the level of technical sophistication of the headset, battery size and usage type. Similar to a phone, our experience is that the actual usage time of the device is low relative to the amount of time the wearer has it on standby.
Monocular Vs Binocular
Monocular devices such as Google Glass or Vuzix M400 are good for presenting heads up information to the wearer through a single screen in front of one eye. These devices can be less intrusive and also have the benefit of generally working well with the wearers regular glasses, allowing for the device to be shared between more than one user. Binocular devices facilitate more sophisticated graphics being presented to both eyes. They are also more intuitive to use as most of us are used to seeing though both eyes.
Need for and Convenience of Special Senses
Some glasses allow the focus of the image to be adjusted, and so reduce or remove the need for specialist lenses. Others allow special prescription lenses to be purchased which fit within the device. Finally some devices are designed to facilitate use of a wearers regular glasses.
Field of View
Much ink has been devoted to the “Field of View” (FOV) or the size of the area in which the device can provide augmented vision to the wearer. This is important particularly in the event that the application the wearer is interested in includes moving virtual items (say a flying object in a game) or they wish to link a piece of information to a specific real world item or point in space. In the event that the application only requires information to be projected heads up for the wearer, there is little need to worry about the FOV. Also, when first using a headset the FOV issue seems important, but once a wearer has adjusted to the new normal, it ceases to be an issue.
Headset costs vary depending on the model and the number of headsets being purchased. The lowest cost headset we have worked on is €750 and meets the requirements of many applications. At the other end of the spectrum some devices cost closer to €6,000 or so. When costing a headset we feel strongly that the cost now is not representative of where we expect things to go over the next few years.
Flexibility to Change Device in Future
We believe that the costs and technologies set our above will change significantly over the coming years. We therefore discourage organisations doing anything which ties them into one headset or platform. Flexibility to change solution will be extremely important in future as things develop.
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