Epson's Moverio BT-300 Smartglasses: Fly Drones, Train Pharmacists And Check Your Emails

Image: Epson

The Epson Moverio BT-300 is the fourth generation of augmented reality-enabled smart glasses to come from Epson since the BT-100 in 2011. Releasing earlier this year, they have been on the market for a while now - and the way they can be used has taken off. Like, literally.

(I'm talking about drones).

The BT-300 Si-OLED HD smart glasses are lighter than their predecessors, so can be worn for longer periods of time. This is a good thing - because the amount of things you can do while wearing them is definitely gaining momentum. If you've been waiting for smart glasses to go mainstream, this might be the device to do it. The main thing holding the BT-300 back, really, is the hefty price tag ($1,200 is not mainstream pricing, by any stretch).

Oh, and that you look like this wearing them.

But that could be a good thing for some.

You you can see, the glasses are fully transparent, and that's the main difference between these and any other kind of headset traditionally used to create an immersive augmented reality space - or pilot a drone. There's no blocking out of the outside world - you can see the display, as well as straight through it - and that gives the BT-300 an advantage over other drone-piloting headsets, particularly in the Australian market.

"When the drone laws recently changed to account for the huge surge in both personal and commercial usage in the last two years, wearing an enclosed headset whilst operating a drone became illegal - unless you're in a sporting field, and there's someone there to supervise you," Dr Lynh Phan told Gizmodo. Dr Phan is a Drone Expert, which is possibly the coolest job in the world.

Because they are fully transparent, Moverio don't fall under these regulations. You can pilot your drone with your smart glasses, looking up to the sky like Iron Man, instead of down at your phone like every other pleb. And it's perfectly legal.

Dr Phan says Moverio are being used to pilot drones for everything from search and rescue missions, to burning rubbish off of high-voltage power lines in China (not even kidding). Locally, AGL are using them to inspect power lines - what used to take a whole day is now only taking 15-30 minutes, tops.

Then there's photography, real estate, insurance inspections - you know the drill. Drones are everywhere now. They are even scanning for Koalas.

But drones aren't everything.

We've spoken extensively about augmented reality being used in situations like shopping, interior decorating and even and surgery, and the Moverio are no different. Dr Gary Grant, the Deputy Head at the School of Pharmacy at Griffith University is using them in the classroom - and it's having astounding results.

"15 per cent of students in a traditional teaching setting can apply what they learn in class," he told Gizmodo, "But the secret to learning is memory based on associations - in other words, experiences create memories."

Dr Grant utilities a purpose-built app, along within the Moverio, to teach Pharmacy students real-life situations. "By the time they get to the workplace, it's too late for training," he says, showing us what has been created for students. We're talking walk-throughs of pharmacies, instructions on how to operate equipment and where vital equipment is kept in an ambulance. Real-world training, without the real-world limitations.

The lessons taught aren't just for the individual wearing the device, either - since everything viewed on the smart glasses can be cast to a screen. "It's students learning in an environment where they are immersed, but not secluded," Dr Grant says.

Dr Grant sees a future where Pharmacists can consult with patients whilst simultaneously looking up medical history and medication information, without ever having to look away.

"Imagine counselling services where the patients feel better looked after, because they have the Doctor's undivided attention," he says.

Moving beyond medical applications to more "everyday" use, there's some promise, for sure. There's wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity, so you can browse the web, play Android-based games, stream and watch 3D or 2D content, check email or use social media while you do whatever else it is you're doing. And the ways they can be used are only growing.

The big downside I can see at the moment (other than a $1k+ price tag) is battery life - with only six hours of charge - max - you can't really use these as an all-day everyday kind of device. Not that I believe we are really ready for that just yet.

People haven't taken to kindly to smart glasses in the past, but perhaps as they are established as a more useful tool in the drone and medical spaces, they might be taken a little more seriously.

Just the specs, please

  • Si-OLED display
  • Intel Atom 5, 1.44GHz Quad Core processor
  • Android 5.1 operating system
  • HD Binocular, wearable display (720P – 1280x720)
  • Interactive track pad and smart navigation menus
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • 5MP HD Camera and motion tracker built in
  • GPS, magnetic, accelerometer and gyro sensors
  • Built-in 16GB storage, supports up to 32GB microSDHC card
  • Rechargeable battery, up to six hours of battery life
  • Comes with the head set, controller, earphones with microphone, AC adapter and protective carrying case

Coming in at $1,199, you can pick up the BT-300 online.