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Google’s latest smart glasses power up with Snapdragon XR1

May 20, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 784 views

Google has launched a $999 “Glass Enterprise Edition 2” headset that runs Android Oreo on a faster, quad-core, 1.7GHz Snapdragon XR1 SoC with an 8MP camera, WiFi-ac, BT 5.x, a USB Type-C port, and longer battery life.

After backing away from its consumer Google Glass eyewear due in part to complaints about privacy, in 2017 Google parent company Alphabet announced a more business- and industrial focused Glass Enterprise Edition as a $1,500 developer platform. Now, Google has brought the Glass unit inhouse, and has returned with a Glass Enterprise Edition 2 designed for mass production. The new eyeware device has a faster processor, longer battery life, improved camera and wireless features, and a reduced $999 price.



Glass EE 2
(click image to enlarge)

The Glass EE 2 is the first Glass model to support Android Enterprise Mobile Device Management for enabling easier deployment, updates, and security. The company also announced a deal with Smith Optics to develop safety frames for the smart glasses. Smith also makes a variety of standard frames for the device that look more like normal glasses.


First-gen
Glass EE

The Glass EE 2 advances from deploying an Android-based stack on an Intel Atom SoC to running the full Android 8.1 Oreo on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1. The Glass EE 2 was rumored to run on an octa-core Kryo 360 Snapdragon 710, but it’s instead deployed on the AR-focused quad-core, 1.7GHz Snapdragon XR1, which Qualcomm announced a year ago. The product was said to offer a slightly more affordable alternative to the similarly 10nm-fabricated Snapdragon 845 Xtended Reality (XR) Platform, which has an octa-core configuration.

The XR1 SoC provides built-in controllers for 3- and 6-DoF head tracking, among other AR/VR-focused features. It also offers an AI engine and an advanced ISP.

A few other Glass EE smart glasses competitors such as Vuzix’s latest, Android-based Vuzix M400 also run on the Snapdragon XR1. The M400, which should ship this summer, updates the earlier Vuzix M300.

The Vuzix and Glass II devices also compete in part with more advanced, fully immersible augmented reality (AR) headgear such as Microsoft’s recent, $3,500 HoloLens 2. Google never uses the term AR, and it’s unclear if the device could produce AR overlays.

Like Vuzix, the Glass EE uses only a single mini-display suspended over one lens of a pair of lightweight glasses rather than using a semi-immersive headset like the HoloLens 2. All these products are designed for field services, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, healthcare, and other applications. There are plenty of applications where a hands-free, voice-controlled computer with an AR display could speed tasks such as consulting maintenance manuals or streaming first-person video.



Glass EE 2
(click image to enlarge)

The 640 x 360-pixel display supports streaming video and is accompanied by a multi-touch gesture touchpad and 3x beam-forming microphones for voice control. Audio can be output via a mono speaker or USB- and Bluetooth audio devices.

As before, there’s an 8-megapixel camera, but it’s said to offer “improved performance and quality,” with an 80-degree field of vision. A privacy LED on the front indicates when the camera is operating.

The Glass EE 2 is equipped with 3GB LPDDR4, 32GB eMMC, dual-band 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5.x — all of which are improvements over the earlier model. Another enhancement is an 820mAh battery with longer battery life and faster charging, thanks to a new USB 2.0 Type-C charging port.

The Glass EE 2 integrates an IMU with 6x-axis accelerometer and gyro and a single 3-axis magnetometer. The 46-gram, “water and dust resistant device has sensors for head detection and “eye-on screen.” There was no mention of an SDK or backward compatibility of application with the previous model.

 
Further information

Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition 2 appears to be available now starting at $999. More information may be found in the Glass EE 2 Google blog announcement and the Glass EE 2 product page.
 

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