The company best known in consumer circles for its printers has beaten Google to market with its smart glasses, but don't expect to see people sporting Epson's Moverio BT-200 specs while walking down the street anytime soon.
And that's because although the glasses are now officially on sale for a mere $699.99 (Google Glass costs double that), Epson is initially targeting them at the enterprise crowd, believing that they have more of a clearly defined use case in the workplace than on a subway train or at a café.
Like Google Glass, the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses have an integrated front-facing camera and a tap on the side wakes them up. However, unlike Google's, the headset uses twin 960x540 displays, one positioned in front of each eye so that images, graphics and other visual information appears to overlay reality. All of which makes them great for Augmented Reality applications.
Sound is good and there's a memory card slot too. What's more, the headset uses Android, so adapting existing apps and developing new ones will be pretty straightforward. Epson has already developed a number of apps focused on business use and is courting developers in the hope of creating more.
However, there are also a couple of drawbacks. The biggest is that instead of connecting to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the Moverio BT-200 glasses have a dedicated tethered (i.e., it connects via a cable) handheld controller with an integrated trackpad -- so yet another device to carry around. Another issue which could prevent the glasses being snapped up by the public is their styling. They are big, and slightly bulky, even without the handset.
Nevertheless, Epson has worked wonders to get the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses from the demo version, showcased at January's International CES, to production ready in just over four months. And, for the moment at least, they're out on the market on their own. There's still no sign of a production version of Google Glass coming anytime soon.