Friday, July 06, 2012

Olympus intros MEG4.0 wearable display technology

In April, it was reported that Oakley was working on smartglasses along the lines of Google's Project Glass. On Thursday, a company with a "O" name jumped into the wearable display market, but it wasn't Oakley. Instead, Olympus of camera fame, announced its MEG4.0 device.
The MEG4.0 interfaces with smartphones via Bluetooth, which means that it does not rely on direct connectivity to data (or voice) via its own radios, unlike Google's Project Glass.

According to the Japanese press release for the MEG4.0, the device seems more akin to being a simple head's-up display than Project Glass. It sports a QVGA (320 x 240) display with up to eight hours of battery life in what is called "intermittent display" mode (switching on for about 15 seconds every three minutes), but as we noted, no radios of its own.

Olympus said the MEG4.0, which isn't necessarily going to be the name of the retail name of the product, uses the company's own "proprietary optical technology" to avoid interfering with a user's view of the outside world.

While the device also has a built-in accelerometer, it is obviously a little behind the technology curve vs. Project Glass, although Google's device seems to be behind this one in terms of the product life cycle.

Olympus has been experimenting with these sorts of head-mounted displays since at least 2005. One key omission, though, and very strange for an imaging company, is that the MEG4.0 is missing a camera.

Naturally, although various prototypes of this sort of wearable technology have been in development by Olympus for some time, the timing appears more than coincidental. Aside from the camera, also missing from the Olympus press release is what seems to be missing from a number of releases nowadays: a date and a price.

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