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Epson takes on Google Glass with wired 'augmented reality' glasses

Head-mounted computer for half the price of Glass

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Think Epson and you've probably got printers on your mind, but the firm also makes wearable computing devices, and has released its latest effort in the area for less than half the current price of Google's forthcoming Glass headware.

The Epson Moverio BT-200 is a pair of high-tech specs that uses twin microprojectors to display images on the interior side of the glasses with 960 by 540 resolution, has built-in Dolby speakers, and a forward-facing camera for recording everyone else. Accelerometers are also built-in, and the device is controlled with an Android handset that serves as a touchpad.

"Moverio BT-200 is Epson's second-generation smart glasses and incorporates much of the feedback provided by both the augmented reality developer and end-user communities," said Anna Jen, director of new products at Epson America.

"With these improvements, Moverio BT-200 is poised to deliver an AR experience that will revolutionize workflow, training and repair in the enterprise environment."

The glasses aren't as advanced as Google's current Glass prototypes – you have to have the control unit plugged in with a wire to use them – but they are less than half the price of the Chocolate Factory's headware, with a $700 price tag as they went on sale on Tuesday.

While no self-respecting hipster is going to be seen dead in a set of Epson's specs, that's not the market the firm is aiming for. Epson wants to sell the Moverio into industry so they can be used on the job. Surgeons can have information displayed while they operate, engineers can have schematics displayed on the glasses while they maintain equipment, and warehouse staff can use them to find inventory.

"Wearable technologies present a very compelling opportunity for those organizations that want to push the boundaries of innovative design and technology applications," said Andrew Vaz, chief innovation officer of Deloitte Consulting.

"It's crucial for organizations to build a baseline understanding of how wearables will impact the strategic drivers of their market," Vaz opined, "and find ways to use wearables in their businesses to gain competitive advantage."

This is the second iteration of Moverio for Epson, and the new design is both lighter and more powerful, the company said. The hardware hasn't exactly set the world alight, but it's a useful addition to a market Google wants all to itself. ®

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