Sony unveils Google Glass alternative, asks developers to make apps

Sony has already announced its interest in virtual reality, with its Project Morpheus VR headset, and now, the company is getting into the augmented reality game, with its prototype SmartEyeglass.

Similar to the Google Glass eyewear, Sony is working on a smartphone-powered solution that superimposes information such as text, symbols, and images, onto the user’s field of view.

Cross-posted from Gadgets NDTV

First showcasing the SmartEyeglass as a prototype at IFA, the company on Friday released the SDK developer preview for app makers to create content for the new platform when it releases sometime next year.

Sony says it plans to offer SmartEyeglass for sale to developers by the end of FY2014, “with the intention of further promoting the development of applications and accelerating the commercialisation of the product for consumer use.”

Sony announced the SmartEyeglass eyewear’s SDK Developer Preview for app developers via a blog post on Friday, saying, “The software development kit will enable developers to build apps for the SmartEyeglass platform, ensuring the foundations are set for a varied, exciting ecosystem of experiences to support the product at launch,” added the Japanese firm.

SmartEyeglass Project Head, Hiroshi Mukawa, added, “releasing the SDK early means that both our industry’s most established and up-and-coming developers will help shape what SmartEyeglass is capable of.”

Showcased in IFA Berlin earlier this month, the Sony SmartEyeglass is transparent lens eyewear that connects with the users’ Android devices and uses the apps available to deliver the desired results in front of the users’ eyes.

sony_smarteyeglass_diagram

Sony says it has used a ‘unique hologram optics technology’ for the SmartEyeglass that gives the 3mm-thick lenses a transparency of 85 percent . The prototype eyewear also houses a range of sensors like CMOS image sensors, accelerometer, Gyroscope, electronic compass, brightness sensor and mic.

The glass once connected wirelessly to the Android device can also access GPS information. The glass also features a 3-megapixel camera that can record video in VGA resolution.

While the sensors and camera are placed on the SmartEyeglass; the mic, touch sensor for scrolling through menu options, and the battery are housed in a small flat circular device, which is connected to the eyewear via a thin wire.

The Sony SmartEyeglass will be compatible with Android devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS version and above. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and above users would also be able to use the movie functionality of the glass’ camera.

Sony is obviously hoping to create a separate platform of augmented reality apps for its own eyewear, a daring move considering Google with the might of Android has already started the ‘glassware’ drive.

Sony says developers can already use the SDK to work on apps for navigation, cooking guide, facial recognition, local event information provider and more. The app developers can start developing apps using the SDK files from the Sony’s dedicated website.

Sony is certainly interested in wearable technology, and at IFA 2014 also showcased the new SmartBand Talk and its latest smartwatch, the SmartWatch 3, both of which will launch later in autumn this year. Notably, both the Sony SmartBand Talk and SmartWatch 3 work with Lifelog, the accompanying app for the wearables.

What do you think?

Do you think the Sony SmartEyeglass is better than Google Glass? What do you think of its features and design?

Share your insights with AustAR Labs in the comments below.

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