Toshiba shows off glasses with embedded display

Toshiba smartglasses
A model wears Toshiba's head-mounted display glasses at Ceatec 2014 in Makuhari on October 6, 2014. Image: IDGNS

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6 October 2014 | 0

Toshiba is showing a prototype pair of smartglasses at the Ceatec trade show in Japan this week, and while they might not displace Google Glass, they should be a bit cheaper.

Called Toshiba Glass, they have a tiny, lightweight projector clipped onto one of the arms near the lens. That projector displays an image that reflects off the inside of the lens to provide an augmented reality-type display.

It’s a similar principle to Google Glass, which also uses a built-in projector. But unlike Google Glass, Toshiba’s effort doesn’t have a prism over the lens to reflect the image into the eye. Instead, the glasses lens itself comprises a series of narrow, vertical prisms. They’re largely invisible when you look straight through the lens, but an image projected from an angle reflects back into the eye.

Toshiba says the glasses weigh 42 grams – about the same as Google Glass, but they’re far less impressive than Google’s product as they connect to a smartphone in your pocket in order to work. That’s partly because the battery for the projector would make the glasses too heavy, according to Toshiba.

Still, it might be a lot cheaper than Google Glass, which retails for $1,500.

Toshiba hopes to ship the product next year in Japan and North America. It will offer three styles of frame: standard, sporty, and industrial, the last being protective googles like you might wear in a lab.

Use cases include displaying information from a health app, so you can see your speed and heart rate while you’re cycling uphill without pulling out your phone, for instance.

That type of everyday use seems unlikely, though, when the glasses need a cable hanging out the back. It’s easier to imagine an industrial use case, like giving an engineer instructions to repair something, so they can still have both hands on the job.

James Niccolai, IDG News Service

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