Would You Wear an Epson TV on Your Nose?

Epson. The printer and projector guys, right? Well, yes. But Epson, in a display of diversity, has jumped on board the wearable bandwagon. At its Monday press conference, Epson unveiled its vision of wearable technologies, as well as a number of new wearable products. Most interestingly, they showed glasses with home theater capabilities.

What are wearable technologies? Wearables are exactly that - tech that can be worn close to the body. Pocket stuff and handheld stuff - no. Stuff around the wrist or otherwise worn on the body - yes. As you might expect, first-gen wearables tend to fall into the health and fitness category. Starting from the heart-rate monitor form factor, the category has expanded to include products such as smart watches and Internet-connected eyeglasses.

Epson planted its flag in the fitness, health and sports segment of the wearables market with the Pulsense product line of fitness bands and smart watches. They use bio sensing to monitor and store your heart rate, activity level, calorie burn, and sleep patterns. No chest strap is needed; heart rate is continuously detected at the wrist by measuring the amount of light reflected from red blood cells. A beat is recorded when the amount of reflected light changes due to a drop in red blood cell count as the blood vessel contracts.

The Pulsense PS-100 wristband uses a simplified LED display and connects to your smartphone to read data. The Pulsense PS-500 watch features a LCD display for real-time data viewing. The PS-100 will sell for MSRP of $129 and the PS-500 will sell for $199; both will be available this summer. Trying to lose weight? Train for the Boston Marathon? Strap one on.

The Moverio BT-200 smart glasses offer a "look through" experience for entertainment and augmented reality applications. The glasses offer binocular lenses (as opposed to the monocular Google Glass) with a miniaturized LCD-based projection system. The projection is stereoscopic with a resolution of 960 x 540, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a 23-degree field of view. With head tracking, a 360-degree look-around is possible. An optical light guide in each side prevents other people from seeing what you see.

Also on board: gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetic compass, front-facing camera, handheld controller running Android, Bluetooth, WiFi (for example, to watch streaming content), native support of MP4 with H.264 plus AAC, and MicroSDHC card slot. An optional wireless mirror adapter can be fitted for viewing high-def content from HDMI sources. And last but not least, the glasses have Dolby Digital Plus for surround sound playback.

In normal operation, the user sees see-through displays overlaid on the real object. The possibilities are endless. Doing an engine rebuild? All the nuts and bolts are projected on top of the real motor. Watching a movie? You can enjoy it with surround sound. The Moverio BT-200 will be available in March with a MSRP of $700. Do your glasses have Dolby Digital Plus? I didn't think so.

Is Epson crazy for pursuing the smart wearables market? Decide for yourself; the wearables market is projected to exceed $8 billion in 2017.

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