Until about eight years ago, augmented reality technology wasn’t well known among the general populace. Only certain establishments like airliners, military forces, NASA and so on were using it before consumer AR products became commonplace. Google became the first to launch a pair of augmented reality smart glasses for consumers in 2012. And ever since then, there have been several smart glasses produced by various companies. Here, I provide a look at the ten best augmented reality smart glasses in 2020.
If you are familiar with augmented reality technology, the HoloLens should have come under your radar at some point. Microsoft released the first HoloLens in 2016. Three years later, in 2019, it released its second mixed reality glasses, the HoloLens 2. Mixed reality is a term Microsoft uses to refer to its AR devices. The HoloLens 2 compared to its predecessors is much more comfortable with its weight evenly distributed around the headset. It has a visor that flips up if you want to interact fully with the real world.
FOV: 43° x 29
Pricing: HoloLens 2 with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist – $125 per user, per month, HoloLens 2(device only) – $3,500, HoloLens 2 Development Edition – $99 per month.
The North Focals is unlike the HoloLens in many ways. Firstly, it falls under the category of AR smart glasses that overlay only two-dimensional objects unto your environment. Secondly, it was made to look like an actual pair of glasses. If you weren’t told it was a smart glasses, you might not notice any difference.
The Focals was designed to be as comfortable as possible for its users. In fact, it is likely more comfortable than any pair of glasses you would buy because of its fitting process. North Focals is works together with a smartphone, either iOS or Android-powered.
Focals functionality is a lot like that of smartwatches. You can do things like check the time, see new messages, reply messages, check your calendar, and even play some custom-built games. The North Focals comes with a plastic ring called Loop used to interact with it.
Pricing: The North Focals starts at $600.
Google Glass is one of the pioneering AR smart glasses for consumers. While the first version wasn’t well-received by people, the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is doing quite well. The Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is an android-powered AR smart glass that is targeted at enterprises and businesses. Users can access various kinds of information necessary to their work such as training material, health records of a particular patient, step-by-step instructions for carrying out a certain task and so on.Instead of projecting these contents on a screen in front of the eyes, or projecting it directly in front of the eyes, Glass Enterprise Edition 2 takes another approach and displays it in a small rectangle at the peripheral of your right eye making it less distracting and easier for you to carry out other tasks. The Glass can also be used to take pictures, record videos and stream live videos as well.
Specs: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and an 820mAh battery.
Pricing: The Glass Enterprise Edition starts at $999.
The Vuzix Blade is powered by Android, just like Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. But unlike Google Glass, you can connect it to your mobile phone, either Android or iOS. This enables you to see notifications from their phones and carry out other tasks such as replying texts and so on. The Blade also has Alexa built into it. So you can make a request with just your voice. Unfortunately, the Blade doesn’t come with speakers, so you’d need earphones to hear Alexa’s reply. But you would still see any text or visual response through the smart glass. There is also a camera at the top left corner for taking pictures and videos.
The Vuzix is quite thick though and isn’t as comfortable as the North Focals. So it can’t get tiring after wearing it for a while.
Specs: ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 5.91GB storage, 470mAh battery
Pricing: The Vuzix Blade is $779
Magic Leap is probably one of the most hyped startups, with companies like Google, Alibaba, and AT&T having invested in it. In 2018 the company released its augmented reality headset to the public. The Magic Leap One works by projecting light rays into your eye. It is through this you are able to experience an augmented world.
Unlike the HoloLens 2, the Magic Leap One isn’t completely self-contained. It is made up of two parts; the headset called Lightwear, and the computing device, called Lightpack. The Lightpack attaches to your pocket or trousers. The Magic Leap One also comes with a controller for users to interact with their augmented world. The AR headset recognizes a few hand motions though. The Magic Leap One runs on Lumin OS created by Magic Leap. Through it, you can access several AR applications.
Specs: Nvidia Tegra X2 all-in-one processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB ROM, and three hours battery life.
Pricing: The Magic Leap One starts out at $2295.
The Dream Glass is the only one of its kind here being a smartphone-powered AR smart glasses. And by smartphone-powered, this refers not only to its software but to how it gets its power. And because there is no battery or processor in the Dream Glass headset, it makes it very light and comfortable to use. Dream Glass was created by a company called DreamWorld.
The Dream Glass has the widest field of view of any AR glasses on this list at 90°. It is considerably wider than that of the HoloLens. Like the HoloLens, it can be interfaced with hand gestures made by the users. The Dream Glass supports Unity — a game engine, making it easier for developers to develop apps for the Dream Glass. Dream Glass comes with only three degrees of freedom by default. But you can purchase an optional tracking set for six degrees.
Pricing: Dream Glass Developer Edition – $619, 6DOF Tracking Set For Dream Glass, Dream Glass With 6DOF Tracking Set – $799.
When you look at the Epson Moverio, it might seem familiar to you. Well, this could be because the Moverio BT-300 looks like a better version of the first Google Glass. The Moverio is an AR smart glass designed for the general populace, unlike some of their other smart glasses developed for enterprise use. The Moverio makes use of a silicon-based OLED display to give its users an augmented reality experience.
Like a lot of the smart glasses above, the Moverio has a camera you can use to take pictures and record videos. One unique feature of the Moverio is its ability to augment its users’ sight with video from the camera of a flying drone. So the user can see the drone and see what the drone sees while flying it.
Specs: Intel Atom X5 processor, 2720 mAh battery.
Pricing: The Epson Moverio BT-300 is $699.
The Kopin Solos is an AR smart glasses designed with cyclists in mind. It has also been adopted by runners and other triathletes. The Solos is a light and comfortable smart glasses that can be used to display important stats to cyclists while riding. As a cyclist, you can check out important stats like your heart rate, speed, elapsed time, cadence, and power. You can also call and chat with other cyclists, as well as listen to music.
The Solos comes with a lot of useful AR apps. You can also use it with existing fitness applications on your phone like MapMyRide and Strava. It is also compatible with all ANT+ devices.
Pricing: The Kopin Solos is $399
The Everysight Raptor looks a lot like the Solos. It was made by an Israel-based startup that once manufactured heads-up displays for the Israeli military. Just like the Solos, Everysight Raptor was designed for cyclists. It makes use of an OLED-based projector to project light unto the lens of the glasses. Through this, the cyclist can see important stats such as their heart rate and speed while cycling. While the Raptor and Solos might seem very similar, the Raptor has several distinguishing features.
Besides being able to interface with the glasses with voice commands, the Raptor has a touch navigation system built into its frames. You can also make use of your phone to navigate the glasses interface instead. There is a special controller that you can use for navigation as well while riding. The Everysight Raptor also supports third-party accessories and services just like the Solos above. There is a camera on the Raptor which you can use to take pictures or record videos while cycling. You can transfer footage and pictures you take to your phone via its mobile app.
Specs: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410E, 2GB RAM, 16/32GB ROM, eight hours battery life.
Pricing: 16GB Ultimate Raptor Set – $699, 32GB Ultimate Raptor Set – $79
Optinvent ORA-2 is an AR smart glasses made by a France-based company called Optinvent. Like the HoloLens and Glass Enterprise Edition 2, the ORA-2 is targeted at professionals and is not available for regular consumers. The ORA-2 is powered by Android like a lot of smart glasses on this list. It can be used for several business applications such as remote maintenance, logistics, remote training, situation awareness and so on. The ORA-2 comes with several pre-loaded apps you can use right out of the box such as Gmail, Clock, Play Store, Browser, and so on.
The ORA-2 makes use of retinal projection to display images to its users. This projection has two modes, one is an augmented reality mode, while the other is a glance mode. You can move the projector with a handle by the right of the frame to switch modes. Optinvent calls this feature ‘Flip Vu.’ According to Optinvent, you can wear most glasses alongside the ORA-2. The ORA-2 also comes with a camera that helps in facilitating remote training and maintenance.
Specs: Dual-core processor, 1200mAh battery.
Pricing: The Optinvent ORA-2 is €699.
Going through this list, observe that the AR industry still has a long way to go. Most of the AR glasses here don’t give a full AR experience. Only a few like the HoloLens 2, Magic Leap One and Dream Glass are close. However, if you want to experience what an augmented world is like, you can check out these augmented reality glasses above. Not all of them are for consumers though, hence, you might not have access to them.