Light-weight Smart Glasses Developed by Japanese Firm

Apr 22, 2014
Tadashi Nezu, Nikkei Electronics
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Westunitis Co Ltd, which develops software and systems for wearable devices, developed a new head-mounted display (HMD).

It is a monocular type like Google Inc's "Google Glass" HMD. Its weight is 48g including a rechargeable battery. Even when a dedicated frame and lenses are included, its weight is less than 100g.

For the display of the HMD, Westunitis employed the "pupil division system" optical technology, which was developed by Olympus Corp and reduces the thickness of display to less than the diameter of the pupil. Its display device is Kopin Corporation Inc's LCD panel with a pixel count of about 400 x 240 (WQVGA).

For adjusting the position of the display in relation to the pupil, the part that connects the HMD's main body and the display is bendable. As a result, the wearer can freely change the position of the display.

The operating system (OS) of the HMD is Android 4.2. For wireless capability, the HMD supports Bluetooth 4.0 and wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n). It can be controlled with voice and a touch pad to be positioned near the temporal region. It comes with a total of nine axes of sensors (three-axis acceleration sensor, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensor). With a 2-Mpixel camera, it can shoot 1,920 x 1,080-pixel video at a frame rate of 30fps. And it is water resistant.

With the built-in rechargeable battery, the HMD can continuously operate for about an hour under a heavy processing load such as shooting HD video with the camera and continuously transmitting it to an external device wirelessly. The capacity of the battery, which is replaceable, is about 300mAh. Because the HMD contains a capacitor, the battery can be replaced even when the HMD is in operation as long as it is replaced in three minutes.

The semiconductor parts of the HMD such as application processor and display device are products of companies based outside Japan. But many of the other parts including the built-in battery are manufactured in Japan, Westunitis said. Also, a Japan-based EMS (electronic manufacturing services) company manufactures the HMD.

The exterior of the HMD was designed by Issei Oura, an industrial designer and president of Eyemo Co Ltd. For its frame, "β titanium" was employed.

Westunitis intends to use the HMD first for business purposes. For example, it expects that the HMD will be used by workers who need to read procedure manuals at manufacturing plants and maintenance sites. The company will start to sell the product in early summer 2014 to other companies at a price of ¥150,000 (approx US$1,461, excluding tax).

For users who use the HMD with a system based on Westunitis' software for wearable devices, the price will be ¥125,000 (excluding tax). The company aims to ship 5,000 units within 2014 and 10,000 units in 2015.