APX Labs’ Milestones in Enterprise Smart Glasses

Portions of this article were published in SAP Startup Focus in its March 26 newsletter.

Since we began in this field in 2011, countless smart glasses prototypes, working samples and production units have passed through the APX R&D lab. Predating Google Glass, we had developed rapid prototyping capabilities to build smart glasses prototypes using available components. Having entered the smart glasses industry earlier than most, our early engineering efforts were broader than the enterprise software company we have become, with the nascent market necessitating a broader technical coverage spanning all aspects of hardware, software, user interface design, human-computer interaction methods and systems thinking. Dropping smart glasses device engineering and some of the low-level software from our core expertise subsequently opened a path for APX to do more with less. 

Large enterprises across the globe have spent many billions of dollars over decades to build out electronic knowledge bases of information needed to get work done. This means that mission critical data for the deskless and hands-on workforce already exists in the enterprise, and now the imperative is to enable a seamless, bidirectional flow of information between the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) ecosystem and users, while refining user interactions in a contextually aware and intuitive manner. Our Skylight product, an enterprise software platform for smart glasses, helps bridge the gap between enterprise information systems and smart glasses users in need of contextually relevant data, accessible heads up and hands free smart glasses.

Our skill today is in keeping up with rapidly changing technology. To illustrate how challenging this can be, let’s look back at the different hardware options available to the enterprise customer. I hope this visually guided tour of smart glasses marking milestone moments within APX’s history demonstrates how quickly technology has advanced in a short period of time, and brings excitement and anticipation for a diversifying ecosystem of emerging devices continuing the next industrial revolution driven by wearable technology.

US Army Smart Glasses, Multiple Generations (2011-2013)

Our company’s history goes back to when we were originally selected to build software for smart glasses used by the United States Army. The biometrics application, nicknamed Terminator Vision, used the onboard camera to capture faces within the soldier’s field of view, send the captured data to a server to determine the identity of the person(s) and display the information in a heads-up and hands-free manner to the user.

Advanced for its time in terms of delivering a fully embedded, single-device-does-all smart glasses solution, these smart glasses featured an end-to-end exchange of field-collected data from the user’s environment, which was analyzed by a back-end system and delivered to the user in real time.

Augmented Reality Smart Glasses Prototype (Late 2012)


In 2012 we broadened our software capabilities to address the non-military market targeting global companies with a deskless and hands-on workforce. We commissioned several prototypes to learn more about the nuances of the ideal hardware for enterprise smart glasses. The ones pictured above used two display modules, each containing a microdisplay, a rudimentary 50:50 beam splitter (light from the environment and the microdisplay are mixed evenly to create visible content to the user), and an illumination source. A 3D printed and painted frame for the headset was designed in-house along with the control module enclosure.

This particular prototype allowed us to experiment with different content presentation options (2D, ultrawide 2D and stereoscopic 3D modes), sensor payloads (visible and infrared camera, motion tracker, microphone, etc.) and computing platforms. It demonstrated there is no single perfect design covering all industrial scenarios and confirmed that enterprise smart glasses follow the same paradigm as all other tools used in the workplace—the right tools or glasses for the right job. 

Epson Moverio BT-100EC Prototype (February 2013)


For APX’s first prototype for the Epson Moverio BT-100, we added a 9-axis inertial measurement unit (accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer) coupled to an Arduino platform, along with a 5MP camera and microphone module enclosed in a 3D-printed module. This in turn was wired into a daughter board for Epson’s control unit containing a battery, a video signal converter, and a USB hub. Finally, we used an Android phone for additional control and management.

This prototype represented a milestone at APX—we  had the ability to produce devices inexpensively for our developers, partners and customers, albeit in a limited fashion (inexpensive at the time meant $3,000-5,000).

Made famous by coverage on and by demos at the YouTube Sandbox at Google I/O 2013, this cemented our presence in the industrial sector with one of the first Epson-derived prototypes. Essentially a functionally equivalent prototype to Epson’s BT-200 smart glasses released a year later, this was the first device APX prototyped in our partnership with Epson.

Google Glass (April 2013)


The release of Google Glass was a milestone for the smart glasses industry for many reasons, not least of which because one of the largest technology companies in the world had introduced a fully integrated smart glasses device at the relatively modest price of $1500. This sparked significant interest from startups, venture capital and large corporations. Overnight, smart glasses went from being exotic devices reserved for researchers and the military to publicly available goods.

The Glass product announcement in 2012 led to the acceleration of the development of and spurred others to take a deeper look at the nascent industry. Google’s entry had ripple effects in the hardware industry as well, considerably increasing the pace at which companies have introduced new devices since.

APX’s vision has always been that smart glasses will fundamentally transform the way the global workforce will build, fix and move goods, delivering enhancements in productivity, efficiency and safety. Glass’ innovations and the market presence it created represented an important step in that direction.

Glass of course has seen its ups and downs, recently bringing the consumer- and app developer-facing Explorer program to an end, but the Glass at Work program, of which APX was the founding partner in April 2014, continues to thrive.

Vuzix M100 (December 2013)


Vuzix is a very well-known name in the smart glasses industry, having developed see-through displays since 2005 (not surprisingly, also for the military). Its M100 product was the first industry-targeted generally available device, complete with an ANSI-rated safety glasses attachment, and has since paved the way alongside Google Glass in setting the standard of heads-up and monocular smart glasses.

APX and Vuzix have an official partnership with the M100 integrating the fourth release of Skylight and increasing the selection of devices available for enterprises to deploy across a diverse set of use cases.

Epson Moverio BT-200 (March 2014)


Epson’s second-generation Moverio product incorporates the sensors we had added to the BT-100EC prototype and are the first generally available stereoscopic see-through smart glasses. The device also integrates Skylight for industrial AR use cases such as two-way video conferencing and workflow information in the worker’s field of view.

These use cases were demonstrated live at SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s SAPPHIRE 2014 keynote address, marking a decisive change for smart glasses in enterprise, with the technology being publicly demonstrated by a major ERP player at its largest conference. With a suggested retail price of $699, the low cost of the device provided additional incentives for enterprises to pilot and experiment with the technology for their workplace scenarios.

Sony SmartEyeglass (February 2015)


Since early 2014, Sony has showcased several iterations of the SmartEyeglass concept at multiple industry conferences. At the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show, Sony, APX and SAP Startup Focus partnered together to demo an enterprise smart glasses solution. Sony provided the hardware for the smart glasses, SAP provided ERP data from Work Manager and HANA and APX’s Skylight furnished the user experience that extended the data to wearable devices. This combination enabled user-context awareness, mobile device management and information security rule enforcement, and brought advanced media to and from users equipped with smart glasses.

Recon Jet (March 2015)


Although the Jet smart glasses product from Recon Instruments is produced primarily for the sports industry, we believe its design balancing wearability, user comfort, function, robustness and price will have a positive influence on future smart glasses designs for enterprise. The Jet has attributes that are desirable for enterprise applications: a sleek and easily wearable design that can withstand harsh outdoor environments, consumer level pricing and availability, and an interchangeable lens design.

What’s Next?

In only four years, smart glasses technology has evolved from being a research prototype, limited in capability, availability and high cost to being broadly accessible, wearable and enterprise ready. We have seen growing interest from the largest global companies in building the connected workplace for their deskless and hands-on workforce, and we believe the market for smart glasses is just getting started.

Going back to the beginning of our product timeline, we initially invested heavily in smart glasses because we recognized their potential suitability to enterprise use cases. The latest version of our Skylight product is scalable, connects to enterprise data sources and supports commercially available models of smart glasses. We are also preparing for emerging trends that will interconnect smart glasses with other mobile devices. With smartwatches taking center stage in 2015, we are extending Skylight support to a growing wearable ecosystem.

We can’t be more excited, both by how far we’ve come and where we’ll go as the wearable market takes off in the enterprise.  We’re also very excited to work alongside an industry full of partners, customers, and research institutions as a founding member of the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA).  The enterprise smart glasses market requires active participation of the full value chain of enterprise mobility.  Device manufacturers, software developers, system integrators, consulting agencies, academic and research institutions will all need to collaborate to deliver on the needs of customers.  There is an elevated sense of personalization that smart glasses and other wearable devices bring to users, and defining the optimized user experience will be a critical task for everyone in the industry.  While improving the user experience and capabilities of our own product line, we recognize that the evolution of the entire enterprise smart glasses value chain requires contributions from an entire industry.

The insights gathered from collaborating with other AREA members will help improve the quality of the experience for our customers, developers and partners.  APX is striving to work with fellow visionaries to accelerate the adoption of enterprise smart glasses technology, generating ripple effects much greater than the mere sum of the AREA members’ capabilities.

Getting Started with Industrial Augmented Reality

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the old saying goes. Nowhere is that more true than where the enterprise is concerned. Intense competition, shrinking margins and the rising costs of doing business make for a demanding operating environment where even small mistakes can end up being costly in the bigger picture. The commercial aerospace market knows this all too well—cancellations and delays cost the industry $45 million per day. Similarly, a typical oil refinery in the energy sector could lose $800K per day due to improperly maintained processing equipment.

It used to be that slow and steady improvements in operational performance would win you the race—not so anymore. Now, just meeting expectations depends on improving bottom line performance 10x, 100x or even more. While there used to be room to improve in optimizing cost efficiency through process improvements alone, order-of-magnitude improvements demand investment in new disruptive technologies that will fundamentally transform how businesses operate.

Enter Augmented Reality

Here at NGRAIN, we see Augmented Reality (AR) as technology that ultimately maximizes the performance of people, machines, and the interactions between them. With companies across the Global 2000 in aerospace, defense, energy, manufacturing and healthcare using NGRAIN in the field today, we have seen firsthand the benefit that virtual and augmented capabilities can bring to the enterprise. Industrial applications that we have deployed are ensuring that specialists on the front line are getting more done than they ever could before. Our work with companies including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Microsoft are uncovering the incredible potential of AR, from providing on-the-job support on the manufacturing floor, to enabling the success of critical operations in the field, to keeping complex vehicles running and heavy equipment online.

It can be daunting to bring AR into your business—where do you start? Who do you talk to? Here’s what you can do today: 

  1. Get in touch with the AREA. NGRAIN is a charter member of the AREA because we are committed to reducing the barriers to AR adoption across the enterprise, and the AREA provides a natural and mutually supportive network that can help you and your organization get on the path to learning more about AR and the value it can bring to your business. 
  1. Download some software and give AR a try. It’s easy to get started with industrial AR. There is a growing number of off-the-shelf software applications you can use to quickly experience AR on a mobile device, tablet, or even wearable smart glasses such as the Epson Moverio. NGRAIN offers a commercial product called Vergence, which provides a straightforward, but feature-rich introduction to creating your own AR experiences without having to write any code or invest in the development of custom software. 
  1. Attend an AR conference. One of the best ways to evaluate the application of industrial AR within your organization is to learn from the experiences of others who are activley involved in the deployment of these technologies; most are eager to share their knowledge about this emerging space. Consequently, the growing interest in enterprise AR has resulted in a host of conferences, trade shows, and events that focus on the use of AR in industrial markets. Though not focusing exclusively on enterprise AR, the annual Augmented World Expo (AWE), now in its sixth year, draws thousands of attendees who share an interest in bringing AR to market and is a great way to get connected with the broader AR community. For those interested in an event focused entirely on enterprise and industrial AR, join the AREA members at the ARise ’15 event at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, UK on July 1, 2015. A quick online search will also yield a significant number of results for events segmented by industry and interest.

Now is a great time to be exploring the potential of AR for your business. The technology is accessible and a thriving community and active developer ecosystem we quickly emerging. Most importantly, the barrier to entry is declining and is as easy as reaching out and having a conversation. We look forward to being in touch!

Why Augmented Reality and Collaboration Make for a Safer and Better World

Augmented Reality (AR)-enabled systems show a mechanic how to repair an engine, or perhaps in the future will guide an inexperienced surgeon in a delicate heart operation. In my opinion, it’s when AR is combined with human collaboration that the magic begins. AR will soon work its way into a variety of applications that are bound to improve our lives, but more importantly, I am convinced it’s to become a catalyst for greater human understanding and world peace.

Augmented Reality Can Bring Us Closer

Everyone’s heart raced when Jake Sculley, the wheel chair-bound Marine in the movie Avatar, first connected his thoughts to those of his avatar, walked and then ran. His mission was to infiltrate the society of the natives, learn their customs and, having gathered that information help destroy their world. Of course, we all know how the story ends…It’s difficult to do harm to those we know. The first step in Hitler’s campaign to eliminate those he considered unworthy was to convince his followers that the others were less than human. In fact, this is a universal technique involved in incitement to violence against another group. It is only when we finally get to know someone that, even if we don’t agree, we can begin to understand and care about them.

Sharing Experiences

AR allows a user to see an enhanced view of reality, placing graphic images and 3D models over the real background. This will be great for building and repairing things by ourselves, but when we combine that capability with modern telecommunications, remote users will be able to participate in those processes with local users in real time, and appear to the wearer of the glasses as if standing alongside them. We won’t just see our grandkids in a Skype screen; we will take them with us on new adventures around the world or in our backyard. An astronaut in space will literally see the hand of the equipment specialist on earth pointing to the board to be replaced as they speak.

Gutenberg changed the world because the printed page could easily display the manuals that apprentices used for learning the trades that freed them from the fields. Radio and then television added sound, motion and recently 3D to the flood of information. Telecommunications has brought the cost of distributing it to practically zero. Now AR combines these capabilities and creates an infinite number of parallel worlds that you may create and visit, as well as acquire skills in from one-on-one instruction. It’s the closest thing to teleportation this side of Star Trek.

Non-verbal communication is said to account for between 55 and 97% (depending on the study) of communication between people. AR will provide practically the same information due to its enabling of “belly to belly” proximity. You will be able to virtually sit in a conference room and interact with other remote participants, watch a theater performance in your living room or tag along with a friend on an exotic trip to a foreign land. That friend will be able to see you, too.

New Ways of Displaying Information

Talk about disruptive. This is downright neutron bomb material. Why do you need a laptop or tablet when you see the screen suspended in mid-air, with the glasses projecting a keyboard on any surface? Gone are large-screen TVs, when everyone sat stationary watching the game from the same angle. Why wouldn’t they prefer it in perfect 3D? Forget glass cockpits in airplanes; why not have all the instruments projected in your field of view? How about infrared images of deer or pedestrians in fog or at night shown on the windshield of your car, to avoid hitting them in time?

Augmented Reality and Collaboration

But, again collaboration use cases will take the cake. The level of empathetic bonding that occurs when you’re in the room with another person will make current social messaging seem like sending smoke signals. Professionals in other countries will virtually know you and work together on projects as I am proposing using the Talent Swarm platform. Along with such proximity-enabled work will come a better understanding of other countries and cultures.

Collaboration is key, but it can’t happen at scale if everyone needs to buy and use exactly the same hardware and software. Collaboration across networks and companies as diverse as the places where humans live and work builds upon deep interoperability. Interoperability with existing and future systems will require a globally agreed-upon set of open standards. We will work within the AREA to strongly advocate for interoperable systems and push for global standards together with other AREA members. Once we have collaborative AR platforms, the benefits of this technology will rapidly serve all people of the world. Becoming an AREA founding sponsor member is, for Talent Swarm, not only common sense, but putting a stake in the ground, demonstrating our leadership for a more productive and peaceful world. We will avoid embarking on another wasteful battle such as VHS vs. Beta, nor allow a single company to reduce the opportunities or lock others out. Christine Perey, Executive Director of AREA, refers to it as our mandate: to ensure that an ecosystem of AR component and solution providers is in harmony with the customers’ needs, and able to deliver the diversity and innovation upon which economic success is based.

Path to the Future

With a concerted group goal centered on the advancement of AR, and with many technological developments both in the works and being introduced at an increasingly fast pace, we will one day look back to 2015 and say, how did we ever get along without Augmented Reality?

Christine Perey to Speak at the EPRI Information, Communication and Cyber Security (ICCS) European Engagement Summit

AREA member EPRI will be hosting its first European Engagement Summit on April 28 and 29 in Madrid, Spain. Executives from European utility companies will be in attendance at this invite-only conference to learn about a variety of topics in cyber security and information technology.

Presentations on the following utility industry topics will include:

  • Augmented Reality in utility operations
  • Risk management in the electric sector
  • Security posture assessment
  • Network and system management
  • Threat management
  • Advanced metering systems
  • Communications in demand response and distributed energy resources

AREA executive director Christine Perey will be presenting on the state of the art of Augmented Reality in 2015, and what is possible with the available technology. She will examine the macroscopic trends that propel advancements in Augmented Reality today, including how new components introduced in the past six months can contribute to the most powerful solutions ever developed. She will also address the internal and external barriers that remain to be overcome before AR can reach its potential impact in utilities and in all industries.

The conference will be held at the InterContinental Madrid and will be followed by a tour of the Gas Natural Fenosa Control Center.

Events are Beginning to Focus on Enterprise Augmented Reality

Look out! Your travel schedule is already overloaded but there are new events where the topic of enterprise Augmented Reality is front and center. There are also events that in previous years have not treated the topic at all but are now sitting up and paying attention. How do you choose where to put your resources?

Tough Choices

In the long run, Augmented Reality will be part of all industries. In the AREA, our mandate is to make sure that this prediction will come true and the projects of our member organizations, regardless of their industry, are successful and bear fruit.

Customers—the buyers and those who will deploy Augmented Reality in their workflows—are already “in” their industry. They know their suppliers and customers. They also have some use cases where they’re thinking AR will be valuable.

Providers of technologies to be deployed in industrial and enterprise environments, on the other hand, are scattered. Under the guise of trying to be responsive, many companies offering AR-enabling systems fail to become experts in the problems and opportunities of a specific industry.

Automotive. Aviation. Construction. Engineering. Aerospace. Defense. Energy. Utilities. AR introduction and adoption won’t happen at the same speed in all industries. Automotive is probably ahead of all the others, but will it hold that lead? For how long?

Which industries are going to embrace AR in a really serious way soonest?


If you’re a provider of AR-enabling systems and have not already developed a sales force affiliated with an industry or just a few related industries, it’s time to do the soul searching you’ve been putting off. This doesn’t mean just looking at the total size of the industry or flipping through your contacts on LinkedIn to find someone that’s prepared to introduce you to the five top CTOs in an industry.


Take the time and in the first half of 2015, invest your resources to better understand industries and domains that you already know as well as those out of your comfort zone. One way to do this is to attend conferences to which an AR topic has recently added to the agenda. For example, the AREA’s calendar of events includes the World Air Traffic Management Congress in Madrid, the Bosch ConnectedWorld conference in Berlin and the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover. 

We’re going to meet people who are gathering in these places. They’ve probably got some major questions about what to expect, some fuzzy areas between AR and VR, and they’re looking for experts. If you are there as well, they may very well find you.

Some companies with a new product to showcase, like AREA member DAQRI, are organizing their own event and inviting their prospects to visit them. This strategy has real benefits because the host can control the message and those to whom the latest developments are revealed. On the other hand, it is unlikely to reach people who aren’t already on your list of prospects. The vendor-hosted event also has the drawback that the conversation isn’t focused on an industry’s pressing needs and greatest opportunities. Finally, those prospects you’ve gathered also sense that they are not sampling the full range of options. By attending one vendor’s event, like Metaio’s InsideAR or DAQRI 4D Expo, customers know that they are only getting what their host wants to put on the menu. 


Balancing Act

So, before you rush out to the airport to yet another conference or tradeshow, consider the year as a whole and develop a balanced approach: a mixture of horizontal “AR-specific” events and those domain- or industry-specific events. Also consider mixing small events with very big ones. They will yield different types of relationships and your business is likely to benefit from having both.

Augmented Reality at CES 2015 is Better and Bigger Than Ever

There’s something for everyone at CES. Do you need a way to store your earbuds so the cables aren’t tangled? What about printing icing on a cake?

Roger Kay, a technology analyst who writes for Forbes, recommends breaking up the event into ten parts. It’s not about the horrendous taxi lines or other logistical issues of dealing with so many people in a relatively small area. I walk everywhere I go. I leisurely covered twenty-four miles on the flat Las Vegas ground in four days; there are buses to and from the airport. Kay wants his topics served out in concentrated exhibition floor zones.

Like for Kay, many of CES’ themes lie outside my areas of interest and despite the headaches caused by the crowds, having the option to see and sample the developments in a variety of fields is one of the reasons I return each year.

Finding what I need to see isn’t a matter I treat lightly. A month before heading to Las Vegas I begin planning my assault because the CEA’s web site is horrendously inefficient and their new mobile app pathetic. Using brute force, I locate all the providers of head-mounted personal displays, the providers of hardware that is or could be AR enabling, and the “pure” AR firms with whom I already have relationships. I also plan a long, slow visit through the innovation zones, such as Eureka Park. I know another half day will be dedicated to Intel, Samsung, Sony, LG Electronics and Qualcomm. Then I search for outliers by name.

A few days prior to the event I begin following the news feeds on social media and technology trade blogs. While there, I also scan the headlines for surprises. 

Highlights of my CES 2015

For reasons that don’t have to do with Google Glass, vendors are making good progress in the personal display space.  The first reason is that more companies are experimenting with new combinations of familiar technology components, particularly with hardware. Optinvent is recombining their optical technology with a set of headphones. Seebright is adding a remote control to your smartphone. Technical Illusions is combining reflector technology and projectors with new optics. It’s like gene mixing to produce new capabilities and life forms.

Vuzix demonstrated the new waveguide technology in their optical see-through personal displays for Augmented Reality.

Vuzix demonstrated the new waveguide technology in their optical see-through personal displays for Augmented Reality.

That’s not to say that designs for the “traditional” optical see-through display form factor are standing still. Getting new investments, such as Vuzix received from Intel, is a major accelerator. ODG’s sales of patents to Microsoft in 2014 produced sufficient revenues for the company to develop a new model of their device targeting consumers.

The second reason for the significant advances in the personal display product category is the evolution of components. I saw firsthand in many exhibits, the “familiar” components these displays are must include, such as motion and other sensors, eye tracking kits and optics. All are rapidly improving. For these components, “improving” means smaller size packaging and lower power consumption. 

It was good to focus—if only briefly—on the familiar faces of AREA members such as APX Labs and NGRAIN who were participating in the Epson developer ecosystem booth, and to see the latest Epson products, which seems to be increasingly popular in enterprise. I found APX again in the Sony SmartEyewear zone, where I was able to try on the Sony prototype. I also caught up with executives and saw impressive new AR demonstrations by companies whom I don’t often see attending my events. If you’re interested, I encourage you to click on these links to learn about MetaInfinityAR, Occipital, ScopeAR, Technical Illusions, LYTE, XOeye Technologies, FOVE, Jins Company, Elvision Technologies, Avegant  and Augumenta. I’m sorry if I neglected to include others that I saw at CES.

Although they were around and showing AR or AR-enabling technologies, and we may have crossed paths unknowingly, I didn’t have a chance to meet with Metaio, Lumus, Lemoptix or Leap Motion.

I spent more time than expected visiting and observing the booths of Virtual Reality headset providers who were at CES. There were several exhibition zones dedicated to Oculus VR, with the new Cresent Bay device.  The lines waiting to try on the new Razer OSVR (Open Source VR) system were stunningly long. It amazes me that a small company like Sulon could afford such a huge footprint in South Hall to set up private briefing rooms for its Cortex display for AR and VR, and yet exhibit openly outside.

Elsewhere there were hordes swarming at the Samsung Gear VR and the Sony Project Morpheus zones. What good are all these headsets without content? I stopped in at JauntVR, which seems to be getting a lot of attention these days. I’m sure there were dozens more showing VR development software, but VR is peripheral to my focus.

I was impressed by the NVIDIA booth’s focus on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems this year, demonstrating real time processing of six video feeds simultaneously on the Tegra K1 Visual Computing Module. There were also excellent demonstrations of enterprise use of AR in the Hewlett Packard exhibit. Intel dedicated a very significant portion of its footprint to Real Sense. And, similarly, the Vuforia zone in Qualcomm’s booth has expanded by comparison to 2014. The IEEE Standards Association offered an AR demonstration to engage people about their work.

Automotive companies were also showing Augmented Reality. I saw examples in the BMW pavilion, in Daimler’s area, the Bosch booth, and Hyundai’s prototype cars.

At the other end of the spectrum there were many exciting new products in the pico projector category. MicroVision and Celluon were both showing HD pico projectors for use with smartphones; such technology will certainly be considered for projection AR in enterprise. ZTE and Texas Instruments also introduced their latest pico projector models at CES 2015.

Digging in Deeper

Although no longer in Las Vegas and despite my careful advance planning, I continued with my CES homework for at least a week. For example, I watched the archive of the “New Realities” panel and played back other videos that cover AR and VR at CES on CNET, Engadget, Tested and Financial Times

The IEEE published an analysis of AR at CES in Spectrum that reaches the same conclusion I drew:  the “C” in CES is for Consumer but a lot of consumer technology is going into corporate IT.

I hope I will have digested all that I gathered at CES 2015 before I begin preparations for 2016.

CES 2015 Attracts AREA Members and Their Customers

Few trade shows and exhibitions compete with the annual Consumer Electronics Show in sheer magnitude. Over 170,000 people, including representatives of six AREA member companies, gathered between January 6 and 9, 2015, to see and touch the latest real (as well as imaginary) high-technology products first hand.

 Main Attraction

While CES is large in size, the prepared visitor can find and focus on the latest in specific segments. For example wearable technology, fitness, optics, cameras, robotics and automotive gadgets. For AREA members, the primary reason to attend CES is to try on — and, for Augmented Reality providers, to help potential customers to explore — options across the entire gamut of optical see-through hands-free displays for Augmented Reality before ordering prototypes and developer kits.

The growth of the optical see-through hands-free display product category was very rapid in 2014. As a customer, gathering information about products from web pages, brochures and media reports is insufficient. Research must include actually trying on hardware and speaking with product team members. If you’re not the largest automotive or airplane company in the world, these devices and teams do not come to your facilities.

After actually donning more than one optical see-through display it becomes clear that there’s a huge spectrum of experiences possible. Even one model of hardware can “feel” very different and support different use cases. Going from one station to the next in a pavilion such as those organized by Sony and Epson, and using the same device running different software offers a glimpse into the possible range.

Providing this hands-on experience to a wide variety of potential customers in a single place is what makes it important for software developers targeting these platforms and devices to participate and attend CES as well.

AREA members APX Labs and NGRAIN demonstrated in partner booths. Other companies manning stations nearby included Scope, XOEye Technologies and Metaio. Elsewhere at CES, ODG, Optinvent, Atheer Labs, Seebright, InfinityAR, FOVE, and Vuzix demonstrated optical and video see-through AR displays in their own dedicated stands. DAQRI and Technical Illusions, maker of CastAR, hosted guests and conducted demonstrations of their pre-release hardware and software in private suites.

Component Comparisons

For other CES visitors (including those who are considering or already embarking on integration of their own hardware-based solutions) meeting with providers of enabling technologies such as chip sets, power storage and transmission components, sensors and sensor hubs can help define the spectrum of choices before making recommendations or purchasing decisions.

For EPRI, an AREA member attending CES 2015, the challenge was to identify possible wearable computing platforms for field agents. Some field agents will be able to use wrist bands. Others may find efficiencies with 3D scanners and 3D printers.

There was no shortage of booths to visits and companies offering new technology to discover in domains adjacent to Augmented Reality at CES 2015.

AREA Mixer

Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps. After CES exhibition hours, business continues as people gather in the streets and in all the popular entertainment venues. The AREA hosted a reception of members and companies focusing on enterprise Augmented Reality in the Marriott Las Vegas, a short distance from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

All the AREA members at CES had representatives on hand to meet and greet guests including executives and engineers from OPTIS, SAP, Bosch, SmartReality, ZigBee Alliance, Vuzix and Epson. The first AREA case studies were shared with visitors as were AREA plans for growth.

As this organization grows it’s not difficult to imagine having a greater presence at CES and a large group of companies participating in a CES enterprise AR mixer in the future.

The IEEE Standards Association at Inside AR 2014

This is a guest post by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), on their participation at the 2014 edition of InsideAR in Munich.

There has been a lot of hype about Augmented Reality, and concrete examples help us all to grasp how far we have come and how much is yet to be done in the field. For this reason, we at IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) were delighted to see all the new technologies showcased at InsideAR 2014. We also enjoyed talking with the diverse crowd of visitors to our booth, which included folks from wearable tech, mobile software and business development, research, academia and marketing.

Many visitors were aware of IEEE-SA’s activities and were interested in knowing more about our “Bringing Standards to Life” AR app experience, showing how IEEE standards (with focus on IEEE 802® standards) impact their daily lives. Some were interested in IEEE-SA’s role in AR, and whether there were any current standards available.

IEEE believes AR is an enabling tool for a number of technologies, including the broad tech that IEEE serves. – Mary Lynne Nielsen, Global Operations and Outreach Program Manager at IEEE Standards Association

Tools for Expanding Augmented Reality Markets

At IEEE we help companies interested in AR to plan for the future. For example, we offer tools for business planning, such as our complimentary copy of IEEE Scenarios for AR in 2020. Also, the standards-development process offers a path for engineers to realize the full potential of Augmented Reality, as the adoption of open standards fosters innovation and market growth through economies of scale and wider interoperability.


We lead campaigns and projects to advance open and interoperable AR. This makes sense, given the scope of IEEE expertise across technology areas that contribute to AR and the proven track record of IEEE for serving as a facilitator and catalyst in widely adopted technologies, such as networking communications and the smart grid.

The IEEE-SA offers a platform for developers and users to innovate for open and interoperable AR. For example, the IEEE-SA’s standards-development process is based on broad global participation and consensus—in alignment with the “OpenStand” principles for global, open, market-driven standards. And, indeed, a wide variety of IEEE standards and projects relevant to AR already exists today.

To facilitate participation from emerging AR domains, the IEEE also explores the establishment of new study groups, projects or standards based on requirements for all segments of the AR ecosystem. To that end, an IEEE-SA Industry Connections activity has been launched to, in part, identify use cases, glossaries, and best practices in the AR technology space.

Furthermore, through participating in meetings of the AR Community and conferences like InsideAR, the IEEE-SA proactively engages with other leaders around the world to encourage global AR market growth.


Overall, we found InsideAR 2014 to be a well-organized and very enlightening event, shedding light on the endless opportunities in the AR space, as it relates to technology overall. There were great sessions covering a range of topics that could provide inspiration across many other industries. We’re looking forward to next year’s event.

It Is All About People

In his presentation on the InsideAR 2014 stage, AREA member Carl Byers of NGRAIN Corporation shared with the audience his conclusion that Augmented Reality is “all about people.” When in the middle of a technology-centric event taking place in the center of the densest AR-populated region of the world (Munich, Germany), it is important to reframe why all activities and investments matter: Augmented Reality helps people to see digital data in context.

The “all about people” guideline applies in medicine as well. Improving patient outcomes is at the heart of Dr. Kavin Andi’s research at St. George’s Hospital at the University of London.

Dr. Andi is an oral and maxillofacial surgery consultant who also practices microvascular reconstructive facial plastic surgery. In his InsideAR presentation Dr. Andi explained how Augmented Reality could provide value to:

  • Designing and communicating tumor removal and reconstructive processes
  • Detecting airway obstruction
  • Planning bone and tissue harvesting

The presentation also introduced some of the many tools surgeons use to achieve positive patient outcomes. Some tools are physical: scalpel, saw, clamps and hoses of many types. And others use software. In addition to the many credentials he has earned in his journey from molecular biology to reconstructive surgery, Dr. Andi has invested heavily in mastering the use of a dozen different software products in a graphics pipeline.

Beginning with scans of patient bodies, the processes he has defined permit surgeons to better prepare for surgery. By studying and planning procedures to be performed in the operating theater in minute detail in advance, the time spent in the actual theater is reduced. 

Patient scanning is highly sophisticated, involving measurements of tumor and bone density, blood flow and other critical factors. But as in other fields where big data is accessible to the expert, the data needs to be accompanied with analytical tools, and in the case of surgery with real time visualization.

The first gap Dr. Andi needs technology to address is advanced segmentation. Better segmentation of the data will separate the volume of the tumor from the surrounding area that is affected. Then, with this data superimposed on the patient, Augmented Reality can help surgeons and assistants—and ultimately the patient—to visualize the proposed treatment.

Leaving diseased tissue in the patient, or removing too much tissue due to low accuracy visualization can impact patient outcomes. That is why surgeons also need (for registration and tracking with hands-free displays) to have sub-millimeter accuracy on deforming surfaces.

When this can be achieved, Dr. Andi envisages that he and other surgeons will be able to perform complex procedures with 3D digital overlay on the patient instead of constantly referring to a display on the side.

To learn more, watch Dr. Andi’s InsideAR 2014 presentation below.

Christine Perey to Speak at 8th Annual InsideAR Conference

We are excited to be a part of Metaio’s InsideAR in Munich, Germany, the largest annual Augmented Reality conference in Europe. Every year, the conference brings together international corporations and thought leaders to discuss developments in Augmented Reality and to showcase the latest innovations. Last year’s conference brought together over 800 participants, 45 speakers and more than 400 international companies.

This year, the two-day conference’s themes will be wearable computing and 3D sensors. Among the main stage speakers will be Mary Lynne Nielsen of AREA member IEEE Standards Association and AREA executive director Christine Perey. The two will present an exciting IEEE project in a talk entitled “AR in 2020: Scenarios for the Future.”

Following the AR in 2020 presentation, there will be a panel discussion about enterprise Augmented Reality, in which Christine will share her views on the opportunities and barriers ahead.

We also look forward to meeting our readers and members at the conference. We will be reporting our experiences and impressions about InsideAR on our blog, so keep an eye out for new posts!