PhotoSeveral companies are using the Consumer Electronics Show this week as a launch pad to get traction for virtual and augmented reality (AR) products they hope will enter the mainstream, if not this year then in the near future.

Many people may be familiar with virtual reality (VR) – which gives the viewer an altered view of reality. That concept already has widespread application in video gaming.

Augmented reality may be less familiar. The user views the real world, but also sees other information that might prove useful, “augmenting,” if you will, what you are actually seeing.

For example, someone wearing augmented reality glasses might see in one corner of the lens directions to where they are going. Or they might get step-by-step instructions to complete a task.

The thinking is that a technology show is an ideal venue for introducing these kinds of products. Vuzix Corporation, which manufactures video eyewear and smart glasses products in the consumer, enterprise, and entertainment market, is showcasing both augmented and virtual reality products, including iWear wireless video headphones, Vidwear B3000 waveguide sunglasses, and M3000 monocular waveguide smart glasses.

No longer science fiction

"Augmented and virtual reality are no longer concepts from science fiction movies, and we are at the forefront of bringing that technology to the world," said Paul Travers, President and CEO at Vuzix.

Lumus, another optical display technology developer, has introduced its DK-50 development kit, showcasing what it claims is the the most advanced augmented reality optics technology available to date.

“The DK-50 represents a significant achievement that combines the finest optical display in the market with the latest industry-leading marker-less AR tracking,” Lumus CEO Ben Weinberger said. “We’re extremely proud and excited to introduce the first and only optical display technology that enables smart eyeglasses to deliver a truly believable AR experience. Lumus technology makes it completely achievable right now to generate a large-scale, high-resolution, bright virtual image, with a lightweight wearable eyeglass display.”

Smart glasses

The company says the DK-50 glasses are equipped with twin stereo cameras and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which allows application developers access to real-time mapping and tracking for the creation of advanced augmented reality applications.

Lumus says the AR glasses not only project an overlay directly on the wearer's main line of sight, but also provide things like real-time mapping of the environment and complete freedom of movement in all directions.

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