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This rugged AR eyewear is similar to Google Glass but won't break

While some people considered Google Glass eyewear simply cool or nosy, the devices were a gold mine of innovation for Pete Jameson.

Jameson, the chief operating officer at Osterhout Design Group, believes Google Glass spread awareness and spawned innovation in eyewear. ODG is among a few companies bringing forward new ideas to make smartglasses practical.

ODG's latest R-7HL is a pair of rugged augmented-reality smartglasses that protects eyes from projectiles. The glasses won't break easily and draw inspiration from Google Glass, augmented reality headsets, and rugged PCs.

The R-7HL is AR eyewear similar to the size of regular glasses, but it isn't meant to be worn all the time. The see-through glasses blend virtual 3D images on real-world backgrounds.

The R-7HL blends computer-generated images into a user's view, providing new ways to interact with the world around. It's a highlighted feature of much larger headsets like Microsoft's HoloLens.

ODG has fortified the eyewear with layers of protection so it can work in extreme conditions. It's like a rugged PC but in AR eyewear format.

But at around US$3,500, it is priced much higher than regular AR glasses. ODG's regular R-7 smartglasses retail for $2,750. The rugged glasses are even more expensive than Microsoft's $3,000 HoloLens. Information about R-7HL's worldwide availability wasn't immediately provided.

The HL in R-7HL stands for "hazardous location," which sums up the purpose of the eyewear. It can be used in locations where regular smartglasses could break, like hospitals, factories, utilities, or chemical production plants.

The smartglasses can work in extreme temperatures, and their solid build protects eyes from projectiles. Additionally, they can withstand drops, other shocks, and water splashes.

The eyewear is targeted at enterprise use. For example, the smartglasses can be used in the inspection and repair of heavy equipment. Overlaid 3D images could help simulate and fix problems.

They could also be used in hospitals, where the R-7HL camera can transmit a live feed of a patient's physical condition to a remote doctor.

They could also be useful in the insurance industry, where agents could take snapshots and record the inspection process.

The R-7HL has components you'd find in a smartphone. It has Qualcomm's Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB DDR3 DRAM, 64GB of storage, two 720p see-through frames, and a 1300mAh battery.

The device also has a camera that can shoot HD images at 60 frames per second. It has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS. It has a range of location, weather, and light sensors.

Additionally, the smartglasses meet standards set for rugged laptops and devices. It meets the U.S. military's MIL-STD 810G standard for ruggedness and extremes. It also meets ANSI standards for safety and ballistic eye protection against projectiles.

The eyewear runs on Android OS and has a custom AR software platform on top of that. It supports the popular Vuforia software platform.

IDG Insider

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