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Android eyewear uses Qualcomm VR platform

Sep 19, 2014 — by Eric Brown 3,903 views

ODG’s “R-7 Glasses” eyewear features augmented reality features based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 SoC and Android-based Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear.

Osterhout Design Group (ODG), which calls itself a developer of “emerging and disruptive electro-optics and sensor-based technologies,” announced the R-7 Glasses eyewear computer in conjunction with Qualcomm’s announcement of the Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear (VOD), which was used to design it. Qualcomm’s VOD, part of its larger Vuforia Mobile Vision Platform, is an Android-based augmented and virtual reality system for Google Glasses type gear that will be released in a limited beta later this year (see farther below).

ODG R-7 Glasses
(click image to enlarge)

VOD has already been used to develop the Android-based Epson Moverio BT-200 eyewear computer announced at last January’s CES, which is now available for $700. The Vuforia platform was also used to develop Samsung’s recently announced Gear VR virtual reality headset, which combines a Snapdragon 805-based Galaxy Note 4 Android phablet with Oculus VR firmware.

Samsung Gear VR (left) and Epson Moverio BT-200

ODG’s R-7

ODG’s R-7 Glasses combine a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 system-on-chip and Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear with its own proprietary electro-optic, computing, sensor, and power components. The ODG technology generates transparent, 720p visual elements and delivers an immersive 3D stereoscopic display, enabling “the seamless and real-time overlay of 3D, photo-realistic graphics, video, and annotations,” says ODG.

R-7 Glasses from top (left) and angle
(click images to enlarge)

The R-7 Glasses are designed for industrial, situational awareness, security, and first-responder applications, says the San Francisco-based company. ODG also has a similar R-6 Glasses design, due to ship to government customers in the fourth quarter. However, aside from revealing the $4,946 price, ODG does not offer much information on it, and is not actively promoting it.


The fully documented R-7 is heading for volume customers in government and industry starting in Q2 2015 at an unstated price. In its FAQ, ODG says it is planning on future consumer sales, althought “it might be a while.”

R-7 rear view
(click image to enlarge)

The R-7 is loaded with a homegrown ReticleOS stack that sits atop Android 4.4.3, and runs with VOD on the powerhouse Snapdragon 805 SoC. The Snapdragon 805 combines four 2.7GHz Krait 450 cores — similar to Cortex-A15 processors — with an Adreno 420 GPU and Hexagon DSP for image processing.

The R-7 is equipped with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, according to ODG, although this glowing AnandTech hands-on report says it is available with as little as 1GB. The device also ships with 16GB of flash storage, expandable to a 128GB solid state drive.

R-7 details
(click image to enlarge)

The Snapdragon 805 drives the 3D stereoscopic head-up display (HUD), which pushes out dual 1280 x 720-pixel streams at 100fps to create transparent overlay images that approximate the appearance of a transparent 65-inch TV set from 10 feet away. A 720p camera, which AnandTech says is a 5-megapixel device, feeds images to the VOD-driven display processing system to create accurate overlays atop the visual field. A second camera is used for tracking, and a pair of microphones is available as well.

Wireless capabilities include WiFi (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.0, FM, and GPS. The Bluetooth connection can be used to connect to ODG’s optional finger controller or wireless keyboard. A wide range of sensors are also available, some of which are used to assist in tracking along with the secondary camera.

The Snapdragon 805 requires a heat sink running across the top of the 5.5-ounce eyewear. Nevertheless, on the prototype tested by AnandTech, the top is said to get pretty hot during operation. A 1400mAh battery keeps things humming with the help of a micro-USB port with magnetic charging capability. According to AnandTech, the battery is split into two battery packs on either side of the glasses.

Apps have already been developed for the R-6 that are supported by the R-7, including image recognition applications. Development tools include the ReticleOS SDK, and a developer support site provides API documentation, tutorials, sample code, UI/UX guide, use cases, and forums, says ODG.

Registered developers can apply for a 25 percent discount on up to two sets of glasses. In the fourth quarter, ODG plans to ship a hardware development kit, which offers all the features of the R-7 along with HDMI and serial ports. An ODG App Marketplace is also in the works.

The AnandTech report describes an intriguing R-7 demo, in which viewing a terrain map enables the generation of a 3D model that can be viewed from any angle. “In addition, a live UAV feed was just above the map, with the position of the UAV indicated by a 3D model orbiting around the map,” writes AnandTech’s Joshua Ho.

Summary of R-7 specs

Specifications listed by ODG for the R-7 Glasses include:

  • Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 (8084) (4x Krait 450 cores @ 2.6GHz); Adreno 420 GPU; Hexagon QDSP6 V5A (600MHz)
  • Memory — 4GB Pop LP-DDR3 RAM; 16-128GB SSD
  • Display — 1280 x 720 (720p) @ 100fps 3D stereoscopic transparent, 16:9 HUD with removable photochromic shields
  • Camera — 720p autofocus @ 100fps camera; additional tracking camera
  • Wireless:
    • 802/11ac (Qualcomm VIVE)
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • FM
  • Sensors:
    • 3x gyroscope
    • 3x magnetometer
    • 3x accelerometer
    • Barometric pressure
    • Humidity
    • Ambient light
  • Other I/O — micro-USB OTG magnetic charging port; magnetic stereo audio ports with ear buds
  • Other features:
    • 2x mics (user and environment)
    • Adjustable, multi-size nose bridge with optional nose pads
    • Removable ear horns
    • Optional wireless finger controller
    • Optional wireless keyboard
    • Optional corrective lenses
  • Power — 1400mAH rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries with magnetic connector cable (micro-USB OTG)
  • Weight — 5.5 oz
  • Dimensions — 7.2 x 6.1 x 2.1 in.
  • Operating system — Android 4.4.3 with ReticleOS and Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear

Qualcomm’s VOD

The Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear is based on Qualcomm’s larger Vuforia Mobile Vision Platform, for augmented reality optimized for Snapdragon processors. More than 100,000 registered developers in 130 countries have helped develop more than 10,000 Vuforia-enabled apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets, says Qualcomm.

Augmented reality apps using Vuforia Mobile Vision Platform

The Vuforia platform is being used to create virtual showrooms, for example letting a shopper hold up a tablet in front of a sofa and have it overlay multiple colors and fabrics. Another application involves augmented reality mobile apps that add virtual enhancements to toys. For example, Vuforia powers the popular Lego Fusion product line. Intrinyc’s Android-based Mobile Development Platform for the Snapdragon 805 offers the Vuforia platform as an option.

VOD augmented view
(click image to enlarge)

The Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear optimizes the Vuforia technology for stereoscopic eyewear computers. VOD enables interactive 3D content to be visually aligned with the underlying world to create hybrid VR/AR gaming, shopping, education, enterprise, and industrial applications, says Qualcomm. VOD also integrates an “easy-to-use” calibration method that enables Vuforia applications to dynamically adapt to a wearer’s facial geometry, says the chip designer.

Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear

“Developers will now have the tools required to build experiences that will drive the adoption of the digital eyewear category,” stated Jay Wright, VP of product management for Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc.

Further information

The R-7 Glasses will be available in Q2 2015 at an unstated price for major government and industrial customers, says ODG. More information may be found at ODG’s R-7 product page. The R-7 will be demonstrated today, Sept. 19, at Qualcomm Uplinq 2014 in San Francisco.

The Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear will be available to selected beta testers sometime this Fall. More information and applications for beta testing may be found at this VOD developer page.

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