VR and Star Trek-style instant translators: The hi-tech new rivals to Google Glass

Google Glass has not even arrived in the UK yet - but it seems likely it will have serious rivals, with companies such as Samsung unveiling their own versions.

Casinos have banned them, bars won’t let you in, and there’s even a term of abuse - “Glasshole” - but that is not putting off companies such as Intel, Samsung, Epson, Oakley and Olympus.

Some will offer the ability to “project” giant screens in front of a user’s eyes - which Glass can’t do - or even enter virtual worlds.

Others may offer the chance to instantly translate words on signs seen through the glasses - and more frighteningly, recognise people instantly via the internet.

According to Eldar Murtazain of Phones Review, “Samsung are developing own version of Google Glass. We will see it (probably) around April-May under Gear Glass brand.”


                                   [Samsung's new Galaxy Gear tested]
 


Epson’s Moverio BT-100 glasses, projects a “screen” in front of the user, with a trackpad providing precise control - it can also “go clear” so users can see “through” it, layering information over the world.

Valerie Riffaud-Cangelosi, Senior Manager at Epson Europe, said: “ Our Moverio BT-100 smart glasses are a truly unique concept and we’re looking for the Android developer community to help us create revolutionary new applications for business and home users that will take augmented reality to the next level..”

Most ambitious of all, though, could be Recon’s new partnership with Intel - aiming to create tough, hi-tech wearables. Recon has made ski goggles with heads-up displays for years.

Recon has already sold 50,000 units of its Snow and Jet glasses - which add sat-nav information over the vision of athletes, as well as emails, texts and weather info.

Its new partnership with Intel could see its stylish, tough glasses adding functions more suited to urban consumers. Jet already offers HD video, mapping, and social apps built in, so athletes can update friends as they cycle.

“Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that re-defines how we use and interact with information,” said Mike Bell, Vice President and General Manager of the New Devices Group at Intel Corporation.  “In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology.”

In Japan, NTT Docomo’s Intelligent Glass instantly translates anything the user sees into their own language - a standard function in smartphones in Japan - and can translate English, Korean and Japanese in less than five seconds.

More worryingly, the glasses also isntantly recognise people using biometrics - something Google has been nervous about adding to Glass.

Other companies are betting on glasses that immerse the user in a virtual world.

Sony’s HMZ-3 headset claims to put a 60-foot screen in front of the user - controllable via PC.

Most radical of all, perhaps, could be the Oculus Rift, a headset built to offer proper, virtual reality worlds - with huge OLED panels designed to feel more like IMAX than previous glasses.

Early review sessions were so intense players had to sit down, and one reviewer said it was ‘like plugging into the Matrix’. Crucially, Rift is likely to be cheap - with a visit to a virtual reality world costing just $300.

Although it - like Glass - doesn’t have a launch date, Rift  too has rivals, with Carl Zeiss and Crytek creating their own “VR” specs for release next year.

People are also devising treadmills for both - so people can "walk" inside these virtual worlds. And there we were, thinking Google Glass would make us look geeky.

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