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Major Takeaways:

  • ODG’s R-7 Smart Glasses could make sitting on an aircraft full of passengers feel like you’re watching TV in your own private cabin
  • While wearing ODG’s glasses, airline passengers could watch both 2-D and 3-D movies
  • Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) is also exploring augmented reality as a way to educate and entertain the passenger during a flight

From Apex’s article:

Osterhout Design Group’s R-7 Smart Glasses may have had military and medical beginnings, but the San Francisco-based tech company is seeing potential in the aircraft cabin. The glasses display video at 720p HD with headset attachments for sound.

It’s a platform that Paramount is willing to take a chance with. The Hollywood studio lent its movies to ODG so they could test the movie viewing experience on the glasses.

“ODG’s Smart Glasses deliver crystal clear audio visual quality perfect for showing Paramount content,” said Joan Filippini, Paramount’s SVP, Non-Theatrical Distribution. “While wearing ODG’s glasses, airline passengers can now watch both 2-D and 3-D movies and receive an unforgettable experience. This will be a compelling element in the future of in-flight entertainment.”

And unlike watching movies on seatback or passengers’ personal electronic devices, the Smart Glasses could provide privacy in tight spaces. “I know there can be a lot of discomfort, especially if you’re watching a movie that the kid next to you shouldn’t be watching,” says Ed Riehle, director, Special Projects at ODG.

With the glasses, passengers could view movies and type e-mails without the intrusion of snoopy neighbors peering over their laptop and tablet screens that become even easier to read when cabin lights dim. Whatever users may be watching or doing behind the glasses is completely private, and from the opposing side, they look as if they the user is wearing a pair of technically advanced Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses.

Google, may have scrapped Google Glass, but interest in wearables and the technologies available to them, have not disappeared. At APEX EXPO 2015, virtual reality was used by Airbus to take delegates aboard Scandinavian Airlines’ new A330 cabin and by Panasonic to walk delegates through its Cabin X concept. And in the skies, it’s enabled Qantas passengers to take virtual vacations and interact with products from the airline’s duty-free shop.

R-7 Smart Glasses on the other hand, use augmented reality (AR) to give users the experience of 360° and 3-D content while keeping their physical periphery within view. Because of this, augmented reality doesn’t induce nausea the way virtual reality does in some people.

In addition to watching video, they can also be used to enhance the experience of reading an in-flight magazine. Riehle demonstrated this with a QR code printed on a piece of cardstock. When viewed through the Smart Glasses, it turned the black and white abstract pattern into a three-dimensional building that could be tilted and turned to be viewed at from different angles.

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) too, is exploring augmented reality as a way to educate and entertain the passenger. “Instead of looking out the window and seeing a black dark sea, you could … have all sorts of fun information along your journey,” said Alexis Steinman, SVP, Digital Media Solutions at GEE. “It’s augmented with elements of reality and synthetic reality that allow you to understand what you’re flying over; little pieces of history; quiz whatever, the opportunities are really endless.”

But Riehle, who is also a retired US army colonel, sees a purpose for Smart Glasses beyond entertainment. In the case of an in-flight emergency, “a crew member could put the glasses on, reach back to a medical facility, speak to a doctor and show the doctor or medical expert the patient in real time.” Known as telepresence, the remote communications technology has been employed by the military and the medical world, where, once again, ODG’s Smart Glasses had its beginnings.

And Riehle believes it’s this difference that will allow the R-7s to succeed where the Google Glasses failed. “It’s not the device it’s the content,” he says. “It’s the architecture that makes it a tool and not just a toy.”