Will drones be the salvation of augmented reality (AR) tech efforts? Perhaps. AR technology has been a compelling technology solution in search of a problem for some time now. Google cancelled their AR smart glasses effort targeted at the consumer market two years after launching. But Epson, a company with deep expertise in digital projection technology, is not giving up and, working with DJI, they may have come up with a working example for why this technology has merit.
Epson, providers of the Moverio AR smart eyewear platform, and DJI,the Chinese drone manufacturer, today announced the a glasses-based augmented reality drone flight simulator app. The app was developed by Y Media Labs exclusively for the Epson Moverio BT-300 (FPV/Drone Edition) smart glasses.
The application allows a user to fly a 3D digital drone in the real world using flight controllers from the latest DJI drones, including the Mavic Pro, Phantom 4, Inspire 2 and Spark. The simulator mirrors the natural, real-world movements of a DJI Mavic Pro, allowing new pilots to learn to fly and experienced pilots to sharpen their skills. Here is a video demonstration of the app courtesy of Epson.
The flight simulator experience is viewed through the Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses and includes a fly mode and two mini-games for advanced pilots. It will be published on the Moverio Apps Market later this year but can be experienced today at any DJI store or most local drone retailers.
“This is arguably the first mainstream consumer application for augmented reality smart glasses,” said Eric Mizufuka, Manager, New Ventures, Epson America. “The ability to digitally ‘paint the sky’ is a game-changer in the drone market and will usher in an exciting range of applications. We’ve been very impressed with DJI’s updated Mobile SDK and look forward to continuing to invest in new applications and partnerships in this space.”
The application was created by Y Media Labs, a leading Silicon Valley-based creative technology agency, under the direction of the DJI and Epson Moverio teams.
“We’re excited to partner with Epson and DJI to set the standard for high-value consumer experiences in the AR space by harnessing the power of cutting-edge technology and world-class design,” said Ashish Toshniwal, CEO of Y Media Labs.
The flight simulator is the first application in a series of aerial augmented reality applications being developed by Y Media in partnership with DJI and Epson. A full-featured AR app for the Epson Moverio smart glasses is being designed to enhance the safety, productivity and capabilities of DJI drones for hobbyists and professionals alike. It is scheduled to be launched by the end of the year.
We continue to be bullish on the opportunities afforded by AR and the Epson Moverio smart glasses. The current app illustrates a clear benefit. Namely, enabling a pilot to simulate the flight of a DJI drone removing the risk of damage etc. Flying drones takes skill. This app enables users to develop that skill.
One impediment to adoption has been cost. The smart glasses have been almost a expensive as the drone Epson has reduced the price to $699.
It’s our opinion that the primary short term benefits are going to be found in the enterprise market. Google seems to agree. They have revived their smart class effort. They have developed the Glass Enterprise Edition with improved battery life and comfort. See Google’s post on the effort here. And then there is Microsoft’s Hololens.
But Epson may have the first real application that solves a clear problem, flight training.