Smartglasses are a still comparatively new sector of the wearable technology market, but for many, Google Glass is the top of the heap when it comes to assigning rank in this ever-changing market. However, as is commonly the case in a growing field like wearable tech, there's room for challengers here, and Toshiba may well have Google beat when it comes to sheer display technology thanks to one critical point...or rather, the lack of one critical point.
Specifically, it's the lack of the external elements of the projector that Google Glass uses, but Toshiba Glass does not. Google Glass uses an external projector that routes through a cube of plastic that's commonly fixed in front of the right eye. It's always there, and commonly can't be ignored. But Toshiba has a new idea, building the necessary reflectors into the right eyepiece's lens. So when the side-mounted projector shines its light forward, the necessary reflectors are in place, but sufficiently integrated that, when there's no light, the reflectors simply aren't seen. The glasses actually have to be held at an angle away from the face to even see the reflectors, a much more subtle maneuver.
Reports suggest that the resolution is a little less sharp than Google's, and may have a particular susceptibility to brightness, as most of the demonstrations with Toshiba Glass were done in a darkened room at the Ceatac 2014 show in Tokyo. Still, these are prototype units being described, so there could be some fairly substantial upgrades on hand when the full commercial versions hit. Right now, the device can do some pretty impressive things, including instant messaging, a speed tracker for bicycling, and even a real-time translation of a presenter at a meeting, any of which are perfectly viable, but all three together in one place is quite the achievement. These were, however, just concepts at last report, but in showing that these things could be done, Toshiba at least somewhat suggests likely courses for Toshiba Glass to follow.
As a further benefit, reports suggest that the simpler manufacturing process should mean a reduced price when these finally come to market. Downsides, however, abound; the device must remain physically tethered to a smartphone to work, and for right now, consumer users won't be able to get in on this action as Toshiba Glass is meant to be part of a “solution,” a complete package of software and services geared toward the enterprise user.
Oddly enough, Google Glass is becoming in and of itself increasingly geared toward the enterprise user. With some places looking to ban the use of Google Glass outright, from bars to theaters and even public streets, the enterprise has, meanwhile, adopted the Google Glass with a much greater fervor. From law enforcement to medicine to field repair work, Google Glass has proven an increasingly valuable tool for the enterprise user. It's not surprising to see Toshiba go looking for enterprise users right out of the gate, especially given the inroads Google's made in that market so far.
Only time will tell just how well Toshiba's version does when it arrives, or even what it will look like and be capable of outside of the prototype's illustrations. But it's clear that Google will have significant competition for its current status as top of the heap, and will have quite a bit to do to fend off the approaching rush.
Contributing TechZone360 Writer
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