Following the mixed success of the initial version of Google Glass, Google is once again focusing on professionals with a new iteration of its augmented reality glasses. The Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 (Glass EE2) takes up the torch … By heavily relying on its predecessors. Deciphering by Charles, one of Immersion’s experts.
In line with the rest of the Google Glass range, the EE2 bets on the lightest possible design. The main device, similar to a large eyeglass arm, is indeed in the featherweight category at 46 grams. This branch is grafted on one of the two pairs of glasses provided and includes a single transparent screen positioned in front of the right eye.
In the end, we obtain a monocular display presenting an virtual screen when the user raises the eyes. The objective is not to add holograms or virtual content in the environment like the Microsoft Hololens 2. Instead, the focus is put on mobility and discretion: taking photos/videos on the fly, accessing a file or the Internet, or video-conferencing without being disturbed in your work. One of the objectives claimed by Google is to gain in efficiency without being intrusive.
To address this challenge, the Glass EE2 has several new features on the hardware side. In particular, the CPU has been replaced by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 chip to improve the device’s performance. In the same idea, the RAM now goes up to 3GB instead of 2. The memory space remains the same as for the EE1 (32GB), but the camera has been improved to support 1080p at 30 fps. Finally, a USB-C port speeds up the charging of the glasses.
On the software side, the Glass EE2 runs on Android 8.1 (Oreo, API 27). No need for a dedicated SDK! To facilitate the development of new applications, the company has also put online the code of several demonstration applications. This welcomed initiative allows you to quickly test features such as voice commands or video conferencing via Web-RTC, provided you have a version of Android Studio at hand.
The strength of the Google Glass EE2 is also its biggest weakness: it is light, relatively non-intrusive , but offers a limited range of features. The monocular display does not allow to benefit from stereo and can quickly create visual fatigue, especially for non-experienced users. The very small size of the augmented display does not make things easier.
Moreover, the interaction with the system quickly becomes cumbersome . Using the touchpad on the arm of the glasses is quickly limited to navigating between a few windows. Voice commands are certainly useful, but struggle to compensate for the lack of interaction. As Charles, our expert in Human-Computer Interaction, commented: “We are very far from the visual rendering of an XR-3 and the gestural interaction techniques of a Hololens 2!”
PFirst assessment: which usages for the Glass EE2?
Of course, the comparison with these two Mixed Reality headsets is unbalanced and the Glass EE2 has a very different positioning. However, even in their own category, we have to admit that these glasses give a mixed first impression.
At this price (about 1000 euros), the comparison with AR glasses like the Epson Moverio BT-300 (released in 2016) leaves one wondering. The Epson didn’t have the same computing power nor the same discretion, sure. . But for a similar (or even lower) price, the Epson’s offered a surprisingly good stereo display, a decent-sized field of view (much larger than the EE2’s) to display virtual objects in the environment, interaction via an external touchpad that was more cumbersome, but also (in our opinion) more comfortable to use… Icing on the cake: the BT-300’s also ran on Android
Recommendations of our expert
In the end, Charles believes that Google Glass EE2 may interest you if:
- You are looking for a device that is as discreet (slightly big lasses, no cable), light and non-intrusive as possible;
- You have simple use cases, requiring for example to take photos/videos on the fly or to share your camera;
- You prefer an Android environment.
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