Tech Biz

DoCoMo Smart Glasses Project Virtual Touch Display, Translate Menus

Japan’s largest mobile carrier takes augmented reality glasses a step further.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s number one cellular provider, brought some high-tech specs to the country’s annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC). Far more advanced than the now ubiquitous Google Glass, DoCoMo’s augmented reality headset can virtually project a touchscreen onto a variety of flat surfaces.

“Head-mounted computers are a useful way to view content and interact with the world on the move, but one drawback is the lack of a physical interface on which the user can click, drag, or navigate content,” said TechHive. “NTT DoCoMo aims to fix that.”

The bulky headset, which is designed for “engineering tests” rather than ordinary consumers, works in tandem with a motion sensing ring that is worn on a user’s finger. Tapping on something like a notebook prompts a display to appear, as if projected onto the notebook’s cover. Much like a tablet, the user can then swipe and tap to move icons and select apps. Selecting a movie app, for example, turns the notebook cover into a viewing screen.

The display is only visible to the user and not actually projected – it is produced inside the glasses.

Another AR headset on display at CEATEC’s DoCoMo booth provided a valuable function for non-Japanese visitors in attending the expo: character recognition technology that can instantly translate unfamiliar languages.

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“The gizmo overlays the wearer’s first language onto unfamiliar text, making signs and menus instantly understandable – a boon to travelers in Japan, where foreign-language menus are not commonly found off the tourist trail,” said AFP.

Another one of DoCoMo’s wearable prototypes utilizes facial recognition software to display a person’s name and title – perfect for people who have a hard time remembering the names of colleagues.

“Imagine walking around and seeing someone whom you want to talk to, but for the life of you, could not remember his or her name. This pair of smart glasses will check the person’s face against the employee manifesto, and relay other metadata such as position and department. What happens when there are two people in your line of sight? Well, it will attempt to pull out data from the database for both folks, displaying their information in your smart glasses one after the other,” explained UberGizmo.

The CEATEC expo, the largest cutting-edge IT and electronics exhibition in Asia, opened today at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. It will run through October 5 under the theme “Smart Innovation: Technology to Create Future Society and Lifestyles.”